After yesterday’s exuberance we decided that we would have a quieter day today. Following a leisurely breakfast we walked along the towpath in the direction of Coventry until we reached the Ricoh arena. We killed a bit of time over a coffee in Starbucks before catching a train from the nearby station and made the six minute trip into Coventry. Sue wanted to visit the nearby Hobbycraft store and while she looked at knitting related items, I checked out the art supplies. In contrast to the day before, this Saturday has been a cloudy and drizzly affair but it wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t walk around the city centre. Lunch was taken at one of our regular haunts, The Establishment and we weren’t disappointed although it was rather busy and noisy today because there were a number of Saracens rugby fans there on their way to the match against Wasps at the Ricoh arena. A little more shopping after lunch followed and then we made our way back to the station and re-traced our steps back to our mooring at Hawkesbury.
Unlike yesterday when the blue skies ensured that the solar panels charged the batteries to 100%, today’s thick cloud prevented a repeat so we ran the engine for an hour to keep them topped up.
Happy Easter everyone!
We got up at half past seven, had some coffee, emptied a couple of cassettes, untied and left Coventry basin. Facing blue skies and moderate temperatures, we enjoyed some reasonable conditions as we threaded our way out of the city and into the countryside. It was an uneventful trip, we only saw three boats on the move and they were all in convoy. A few pedestrians and dog walkers passed the time of day otherwise it just the two of us travelling in the April sunshine.
Two hours after setting off saw us passing through Sutton’s Stop and another hour brought us to Marston Junction where we turned right on to our beloved Ashby Canal. The sun came out again and accompanied us as we picked our way around the bends of the Ashby until we reached the Lime Kilns where we tied up on the garden mooring before going in and having our Easter Sunday lunch. After that we retired to the boat and flopped in our chairs, listened to the radio and let our dinner go down.
It was cold and dull when we poked our heads out of Caxton on Easter Saturday. Across the way, the old dog that we had become acquainted with in the Greyhound the evening before had barked at every passing boat but was quite happy to watch us untie before we started our trip into Coventry.
We were away for nine o’clock on the two hour journey into Coventry’s canal basin. The route continues to be improved but we saw only a handful of people on the towpath and met no oncoming boats as we made our way into the City centre. Nevertheless, we arrived in the basin two hours later, turned around and reversed onto a mooring where we tied up for the day. After we had showered and changed, we had some soup and then headed off through the City in search of the local Hobbycraft store which we found half an hour later.
After Sue had raided the “Fat Quarter” shelf, we wandered back into town and visited “The Flying Standard “, one of the local Wetherspoons pubs. We called in Sainsburys on our way back to the basin and then we sat on the back deck in the late afternoon sunshine. We engaged in conversation with a group of Asian ladies who expressed an interest in our boat and Sue then showed two of them around the interior of Caxton. No sooner had they disappeared inside than I was approached by an Indian couple who asked if they could have a look inside our boat. Needless to say, we obliged and Susie the tour guide continued with her work! Soon enough we were left on our own and we retreated indoors for the evening and had ourselves a roast beef dinner before settling down.
We had no complaints about our night in Coventry basin, it was very quiet indeed. We left our mooring at nine o’clock and made our way back to Hawkesbury junction in the glorious sunshine.
It was a lovely trip which ended when we found a mooring opposite the old engine house, a spot that we have been lucky enough to have occupied on a few previous occasions. It was just before midday and Sue offered to buy lunch at the Greyhound so it was difficult to refuse. We spent the next couple of hours eating, drinking and basking in the September sunshine at the waterside watching the boats go by. Eventually we had to call it a day and retire to the front deck of Caxton where we resumed our sitting in the sun and watching the boats going by.
We pronounced our Coventry trip a success and vowed to go again soon.
We were up reasonably early this morning and set off at eight o’clock. It had been raining but it was dry again when we left our mooring at Ansty. We pootled on along the North Oxford and with the exception of a solitary boat on the move near the M69, we were alone. Alone that was until we reached the last bend before the straight run to the stop lock at Hawkesbury junction. Who should we meet but Richard and Sharon on board Barnowl No. 12, Oakapple. Well it was a bit awkward being on that bend but with nothing else about we were both able to slow to a crawl and have an early morning conversation before going our separate ways. We read each others blogs so we knew where we both had been the day before, it was lovely to see you both again, no doubt our paths will cross again in the future. The steady beat of Oakapple’s engine faded into the distance as we made our way to the lock which happened to be in our favour. Nb Indulgence rounded the bend as we drained the shallow lock which meant that Sue was able to walk round to the service point and wait for Caxton and me.
Half an hour later with the rubbish dumped, the cassettes emptied and the water tank brim-full, we began our trip into Coventry. It started to rain, not heavy, just a steady drizzle and with it being reasonably warm with no wind it wasn’t unpleasant (note to Fiona – “Dry Rain”). Susan took up residence inside at my insistence, no point in us both getting wet I said but the rain didn’t stop until we reached the basin at Coventry.
The only craft that we saw on the water as we made our way into the city was a canoeist!
So what was the trip like, you may ask. Well I think that it was pretty good, the canal wends its way into the city in a convoluted sort of way but it’s strange because it’s lined by trees and parkland. You don’t see much in the way of industry, even the old Courtaulds site which was cleared a few years ago is gradually being taken over by weeds and wild plants. The towpath is of good quality, populated by the odd jogger, a few cyclists and one or two pedestrians. There is graffiti in places but nothing offensive, there are odd bits of flotsam and jetsam in the cut but nothing that is troublesome. If there is one criticism, it would be that there appears to be a complete lack of litter bins along the way, something that the City Council should be ashamed of. It’s noticable, not because there is lot’s of litter strewn everywhere but rather that some good citizens have hung carrier bags to gates along the towpath providing makeshift bins. Now I know that the answer is for everyone to take their litter home but in the absence of bins, it’s a solution of sorts.
As we approached the basin, we saw three kids on the towpath, only aged around ten or eleven but they were hurriedly collecting stones! We did what we normally do and engaged their interest, they dropped the stones and talked to us all of the way into the basin itself. The two boys and a girl were actually alright and maybe we were wrong to fear the worst, we chatted to them as we tied up and answered all of their questions. The three were desperate to see inside Caxton, Sue warned them that they shouldn’t ever get in a stranger’s car or boat. They reassured her that they knew the dangers of being kidnapped by paedos! Sue showed them through the boat while I chatted to the owner of the boat moored behind us. They were suitably impressed and then ran off to annoy another boater who had just arrived in the basin.
The Valley Cruises hire fleet is based in Coventry basin now and they occupy the left hand arm as you enter, despite appearances there is enough room to turn and reverse into the other arm which is what we did.
We walked into the city centre shortly after we arrived in the basin, we’re quite familiar with the place since we only live about 15 miles away so there were no surprises. We had lunch at a pub called The Establishment which used to be the old County Hall and Courthouse, it is reputedly one of the most haunted buildings in Coventry.
We wandered back through the old and new Cathedrals and took some pictures just in case you are one of the people who think that Coventry is just a bombed out city that was rebuilt using concrete in the fifties and sixties. There is a bit of that of course, but there is still a lot of history here too.
Coventry is also home to an excellent transport museum, it’s not far from the basin and the entry is free. We didn’t visit it today but we have been there many times before.
We didn’t take pictures on the way in because of the rain but hopefully we’ll get some tomorrow on our way back, in the meantime here are some pics from around Coventry City Centre.