Locks on the Shroppy
Robin watching us
Dawn, dressed for flaming June!
Les Lobbs Diary
June 2012
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A pleasant mornings cruising has brought us to Gnosall, a friendly small town that we have moored at before. On several stretches, the Shroppy is very rocky near the banks; I managed to find quite a few rocks as we met oncoming boats, and on one occasion tipped us over enough for the kitchen draws to fly open, needless to say, the crew was not amused. Woodseaves Cutting is notoriously narrow and there are often landslides, making it even narrower after BW have put fenders around the debris (see pics); by starting at 06.00 we had cleared the narrowest parts without meeting any other boats. We met a dayboat (small boat for hire) further on, and when they saw us approaching, they steered it into the trees and ran aground to avoid us; I don't look that frightening do I - I offered advice as we passed.
Cross Green, Staffs & Worchestershire
Saturday started drizzly and got worse, fortunately we found a good mooring at Brewood and called it a day. Paul came onboard last night for some sausage and mash, and a chat; when he left to walk home it was raining. This morning it was still raining, but we must be back at the marina by Tuesday, so we cast off at 06.00; there were no locks till we reached Autherley junction, this meant that the crew was able to stay indoors by the stove. On a narrow stretch I noticed a line in the water, so I knocked it out of gear before it got friendly with the prop; when I pulled it in with the boathook, I found it was a good line with spliced eye on one end and back splice on tother - I can only assume the brambles dragged it off someone's boat. The Autherley lock is only a few inches rise and we were soon through, and onto the S&W, heading towards Gt Haywood; the rain was showing no signs of letting up, so I pulled in at Cross Green to some good ringed moorings. We now have all my wet weather gear drying by the stove and the crew asleep on the settee - that's what drinking red wine does to you!!
Gt Haywood, T&M
Today the Staffs & Worc, must have rivalled the M6 for traffic; we left one lock with 5 boats waiting to lock through and more arriving behind them. There is a sort of waterways version of sods law, it's that if you are going to meet another boat, it will be in a bridge hole or at a sharp bend - I had my share of bridge meetings today. It was our intention to stop at lunchtime and reach Gt Haywood tomorrow, but the weather was good, so we carried on and logged 18.5 miles with 12 locks. We met a lot of the hire boats at the locks, they usually have loads of crew members, all armed with a windlass, very eager to work the paddles, my head lock person was only too pleased to let them "have a go". Tomorrow, we will get the boat ready for its pull out on Wednesday, and tidy up in general.
As Ben Franklin said:
In wine there is wisdom,
In beer there is freedom,
In water there is bacteria.
The book "Understanding Women" is now available in paperback
Major Publishing Event

Use the letters from the word below, to fill in the blank squares, making complete words both down and across.
This one is a bit of a stinker, but I expect BC will crack it.
Gt Haywood
The roof has been given the treatment by Dawn, and is now clear of all the bird poo and leaves; a lesson I should have learnt by now - don't moor under trees, especially willows. Our diesel stove has been playing up a bit lately and today decided to pack in completely; we both thought we had finished with it till autumn. I had bought a new FFD last year and put off fitting it (not a nice job), but needs must, and so after a lot of swearing and soot up to my elbows, we now have a working stove again. We do not need to transfer much to the van this time because we are only going for a long weekend.
Sorry, FFD = Flame Failure Device. It's a small sensor and cut off valve; the sensor is mounted in the flame and cuts off the fuel supply if the flame goes out.
05.30 - It's raining. Rather than wait till the boat was pulled out yesterday, we left them the keys and headed south just after 09.00. We met the usual traffic build up around Brum, but no hold ups. This trip we turned off the M5 onto the A419 to Devizes; we wanted some more net curtain material, to match what we already have in the boat, and friends wanted a couple of the small tables, that we bought there last year. After Devizes we had a good run down the A303 to Taunton, where we are now camped. Dawn is off to sit with the boys while Julie has an early start and then she's got a hair appt, so I'm staying here till she gets back and then we will go to see Mum. I got a text yesterday from G&T, to say that they should be back at Chateau Duckworth today - I bet the grass is 2ft high! Gloria also got in touch; Roger has had a rough time with his shingles, and the temperature on the Algarve is getting very high, which won't make it any more comfortable for him; their son, Trevor, is visiting them today so hopefully that will take Rogers mind off it.
If you get an email saying that you can catch Swine Flu from tinned ham, then delete it. It’s Spam.
Each of the anagrams below is a synonym of
Each of the anagrams below is a synonym of "valuable"
Senior Moments
07.00 - When we visited Mum yesterday she had just cooked herself a burger, and very good it smelt too. Dawn tried all the places she knew in Taunton, but still no net curtains; mind you, she did find herself some shorts, skirt, and tops, ready for the winter. John rang from the boatyard, to tell us that they have pressure washed it's bottom and taken off the rudder, but until they get dry weather they cannot do much else. I've got my Xray appt this afternoon and we will call on Mum afterwards; the plan was to return to Gt Haywood on Sunday but, if the boat is still out of the water, there is no rush.
18.00 - We went to the M5 Taunton junction at 13.45 to head south for my appt at 15.15 in Exeter; the roundabout was chocker, and all north bound lanes were at crawling pace. The south lanes had speed restrictions all the way to the Tiverton turn, where the matrix was warning of queues, so we dived off to Tiverton and went by the valley road into Exeter; we arrived with minutes to spare, after taking out a mortgage for the parking meter. I hardly had to wait in the hospital and we were out by 15.30 (lucky we didn't have the camera with us, cos Dawn couldn't stop laughing at the gown I was given - I'm sure it was for age 5). On the trip home, the traffic bulletins were giving solid traffic north between Cullompton and Bristol, so we took the back roads, which were busy but OK.
What was Charlie Mopps famous for?
Confessions of a hooker

A couple were lying in bed together on the morning of their tenth wedding anniversary when the wife says, 'Darling, as this is such a special occasion, I think that it is time I made a confession: Before we were married I was a hooker for eight years.'

The husband ponders for a moment and then looks into his wife's eyes and says, 'My love, you have been a perfect wife for ten years! I cannot hold your past against you, maybe you could show me a few tricks of the trade and spice up our sex life a bit?'

She said, 'I don't think you understand, my name was Brian and I played rugby for Wigan. . .'
Gt Haywood
Our weekend was spent visiting Mum and Julie & family. On Sunday we raided Mum's photo albums, and scanned a few into the computer; we then had a beef casserole, complete with dumplings, that Mum had prepared for us. It rained virtually all weekend and the motorway was in its usual manic state, so we left at 03.00 this morning and had a good drive up here with no problems. Dawn has just walked over to the workshops and found that the boat had been blacked (bottom painted) on Friday and John was working on the new rudder stock and bearings. When they have finished for the night, we will, weather permitting, paint the white and red bands on the stern, because they are difficult to get at when she's afloat.
Gt Haywood
Good news on the boat - we managed to get the stern rubbed down and one coat on the red and white bands. When I went over just now, John was welding the rudder plates back onto the new stock and expects to have her back in the water tomorrow; that gives us a chance to put another coat of paint on this evening. I also rang the surgeon's secretary, to get a rough idea of my next appt - she thinks Sept, so we can float off in the knowledge that we won't have to dash back, or leave the boat in a marina somewhere. Click on the link above for a video clip of a very lucky man.
Staffs & Worc Bridge 96
After fitting the stern fender back in place, we popped into Stafford for some last minute shopping. When we got back to the marina, the boat was in the water and raring to go. We left at 14.00 and, at 14.50, were just coming to our first lock on the S&W, when we were hit by a hailstorm. I stood under some trees and held the boat, while Dawn opened a paddle and hid under the bridge until the lock was ready. We did the long curve round Baswich and then pulled in after Bridge 96. It is 19.00 now and the sun is blazing - we'll get it right one day! Our idea is to go down the S&W onto the River Severn, and then up the Avon towards Stratford; when we get there, we will decide where to go next.

Cross Green
05.00 saw us on our way, with fine weather and a slight breeze. We met no boats until about 09.00, when a few started moving; we had done most of the locks by then. It made sense to stop at Cross Green, which we reached at 10.50, and then tomorrow we should be able to clear Wolverhampton and find a rural mooring for t'night. The wind has picked up a bit and a lady we met on the towpath told us that rain is forecast for the next couple of days; we'll see what the morning brings.
Swindon (not that one)
We have had a good days travel, starting at 05.30 and stopping at 12.00; we covered 11miles and 13 locks, including the manned Bratch flight. It is not looking too promising for the Severn because of all the rain we have had, and there is more forecast; still we will plod on and see what conditions are like when we reach Stourport. It has been a day of "jackets on, jackets off" but the showers haven't lasted long, and it's not cold. We are both impressed with the Staffs & Worc canal; there is good scenery and a fair depth of water, the locks work well and the people we have met have been very friendly.
A big Texan stopped at a local restaurant following a day roaming around in Mexico .

While sipping his tequila, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious looking platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.

He asked the waiter, “What is that you just served?”

The waiter replied, “Ah senor, you have excellent taste! Those are called Cojones de Toro, bull's testicles from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy!”

The cowboy said, “What the heck, bring me an order.”

The waiter replied, “I am so sorry senor. There is only one serving per day because there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early and place your order, we will be sure to save you this delicacy.”

The next morning, the cowboy returned, placed his order, and that evening was served the one and only special delicacy of the day. After a few bites, inspecting his platter, he called to the waiter and said, “These are delicious, but they are much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday.”

The waiter shrugged his shoulders and replied,
“Si, Senor. Sometimes the bull wins!”
Mexican Oysters
The "Contact us" link is now active again - apologies, and thanks to BC for spotting it
Above Kinver
Yesterday we stayed tied up; it was windy and drizzly so, with the Severn still looking dodgy, there was no point in ploughing on. Between showers, we had a stroll into the village & bought a loaf, from a proper baker, and a paper. Last evening, for a change, we had an omelette with Dawns special wedges - like giant chips sprinkled with fajita mix, coated in olive oil, and cooked on a tray in the oven; they were 'ansom! We still have a few odd jobs to do around the boat, but most of them need decent weather to complete. This morning we have covered 5 miles, with 5 locks (all set against us), through beautiful heavily wooded countryside. We have tied up in the country, overlooking a meadow with sheep grazing - perfik. I have just checked the tank and found that we need to look for diesel soon.
Dead easy cake recipe

This is a very popular cake that my Mum has been making for years. We sometimes vary it by using apricots or prunes; brown sugar, and ground ginger are other things we have added. Our friend Paul uses thinly sliced banana and raisins. As long as the quantities are equal it turns out OK.

1 mug of all bran
1 mug of dried mixed fruit
1 mug sugar
1 mug sr flour
1 mug milk

Mix all ingredients, EXCEPT the flour, in a large bowl & leave overnight. In the morning, mix in the flour and stir well. Line 2 small loaf tins and grease well; then pour in the mixture and bung into a pre-heated oven at gas mk 4 for 50 mins. Test with skewer near the end of cooking time.
No rain; we made it here in the dry and are now sitting on the aft deck enjoying the sunshine, remember that? it's a bright light in the sky. Dawn slipped over yesterday and turned her ankle; she was in a lot of pain last evening and we didn't expect to travel today, but this morning the pain had gone and she was back to her old nimble self. We are now in Worcestershire on the outskirts of Stourport; tomorrow we will head down to the basin at the junction with the Severn and get diesel, before deciding whether to wait for the river to quieten, or go back along the S&W.
The first job today was to get diesel from the Stourport basin; head of finance went pale - it took 200ltrs. The red light was still on for the Severn, even so, some boats were going down on to it. As more rain is forecast, we decided to give it a miss and head back up the S&W, and try it later in the year. We are now on the visitor moorings at Kinver and sitting out listening to drivetime with Simon Mayo.
The pics on the right show the view from the lock at Kidderminster
Click on the band link, then the instruments - it's cool.
Today we had a visit from friends Lawrence and Chris, who we met in France and who live near here; in fact Lawrence was born in Kinver. The weather was kind enough to let us sit out and after lunch we travelled up through 2 locks and had a cuppa before they walked back to their car. It's always good to catch up with friends we haven't seen for a while and today was no exception - a really enjoyable day. The weather forecast seems a bit grim for a few days, so we'll have to play it by ear and move when we can.
Above Bratch Locks
8 miles and 13 locks, and we're both knackered - must be an age thing; the curry has revived us though. It's been another funny day with showers showing up the minute you take your jacket off; still not many boats about. The further north we get on this canal, the wider and deeper it gets, making travel a lot easier.
Shroppy, above Bridge 8
Another on/off drizzly day, but we made Autherley junction by 09.00 and turned onto the Shroppy, where we stopped soon after. The last few miles were lockless, so Dawn disappeared below, and I soon got the smell of baking wafting up to me; when we had tied up, there were a quiche and 2 mini jam rolls cooling, and a banana and date cake still cooking in the oven. Yesterday's washing is still hanging in the cratch, drying from the heat of the stove - yes we are still using it! - and the draught through the drop down hatch. The sun is trying to break through now (12.30), but it still doesn't look settled.

Use the letters from the word below, to fill in the blank squares, making complete words both down and across.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
I left the crew in bed, because we had a few miles before the first lock, and set off at 05.00. It is always slow going through Brewood, passing all the moored boats, and then it's an easy run to the lock at Wheaton Aston. We filled and emptied after the lock and then made Gnosall, just as it started to drizzle; we are tied up just after the tunnel near the Boat inn. Housekeeping tells me that she would like to shop at Mkt Drayton, so we will try and get there on Monday, weather permitting.
Here's a film clip that some may find disturbing. I have my doubts about it being true as I think the reaction of the cameraman would have been different.
Market Drayton
Last night, after an easy cruise through Norbury junction, we moored near the aqueduct at Shebdon. This morning, I left the crew abed again and set off towards Woodseaves Cutting; after about an hour I saw the shower pump shooting froffy water into the cut - crew was awake. In the wooded sections, we were serenaded by wrens; I still think it amazing that such a beautiful sound can come from a beak that small. As we passed through Woodseaves cutting I counted five kingfishers and spotted a bird that we are seeing more of, a thrush. The moorings at Mkt Drayton looked full as we approached, but a boat was just setting off, so we slipped into his spot and are here for the day; Dawn has just gone off down the towpath, with her Granny trolley, to see what bargains she can find in Mkt Drayton. We think we will continue straight on at Barbridge junction and visit Chester again, it's an interesting town and there are good moorings there.
As they are now
Dawn did the washing while we travelled this morning, it's now hanging in the cratch, and from a line on the side of the boat. We have moored above Wharton's lock, which leaves us 8 miles and 6 locks to Chester. The locks this side of Barbridge junction are widebeam, so we rattle about a bit; it's not a problem going down but on the way back it will be good to pair up with another boat - saves tying up in the lock. I've been painting the hatch that we fitted to the cratch board last year, it gives access to the foredeck and makes it easier to tie off the mooring lines and fill up with water. The side sluices from the locks are very strong, as the rain we have been having makes its way downstream - again, not a lot of bother going down, but makes lock entry interesting when going up.
Above are a few ads that I thought were good
Today we met up with a couple who live in New Zealand, and spend the summer months over here on their nb "Tui" - it's a bird native to N Z. Good company and easier lock passage make cruising so much more enjoyable. I did another small job yesterday, that I had been kept putting off for ages, I straightened the diesel stove chimney, again. The chimney is a bit of a monkey, it doesn't like passing under low bridges without kissing them, and if I take it down when travelling, it's like performing a rain dance - guaranteed rain within the hour! I think management would like to have a stroll round Chester tomorrow, she's earned it after these locks, so we'll stay here for a day, or possibly two, it will also give me a chance to daub some more colour on the hatch.