Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Saturday 27 June 2009

Sent from Coventry to New Zealand!!

We had another visitor to the boat this morning - a moorhen walked up the front rope and made herslef at home with Barry!

After she'd been scared off by a passing boat, some mallards came to have some bread for breakfast. They're such territorial things and if one from another family tries to butt in then the others see them off - this pale one behind attacked one of the smaller ducks numerous times and eventually plucked half its feathers out! Cruel thing! I made sure she didn't get any bread, it's just ingrained in me to live by the law of karma!

We left our mooring at Ansty mid-morning and wound our way under the M69 to Hawkesbury Junction, then left to Coventry and under the M6. On the way Barry did some varnishing of the front cratch that had taken a battering from the fallen tree yesterday, and also took down both of the unused chimneys on top of the boat - he replaced them with stainless steel bowls, only temporarily I hope!

Coventry is reached by a canal that only goes to Coventry and takes about 2 hours to get there from the junction.

Hawkesbury Junction

Left side, up to Nuneaton & down to Coventry. Right side, Oxford Canal where we,ve come from

The bridge entrance to the canal to Coventry

The canal meanders along mainly derelict industrial buildings, high rise housing and two-up two-down houses; with graffiti lining every bridge (did you know that Jane Edwards was gang banged under one of them - well that's what it said!!) - it was even sprayed over a very pretty mural that had been done by some school-children, shame on the young thugs. Certainly the housing was a complete contrast to that we've seen in places along the River Avon.
The dirty water was full of flotsam and jetsom – we saw about a dozen coconuts (heaven knows where they came from!), a police truncheon (?!), many cans of lager (mainly Carlsburg for some reason), footballs, empty plastic bottles, two black buckets, and an array of other rubbish! Certainly not the most picturesque canalside we’ve come across, and dare I say it much worse than the journey past Wolverhampton even, though surprisingly we didn’t see any supermarket trolleys! I found the sight of all the poor housing, vandalism and rubbish nauseating, not the side of England that I relish, but Barry found it all fascinating and great photo material!

There should be an art trail along the canal, but I think we have an old map/guide as most of the art has been trashed or stolen! I'm sure it was lovely once ...

A large, non-descript building that looks as though it has come out of the cold war!

Canal side properties, Originally weavers cottages underneath and the workrooms on the top floor now turned into the usual housing re-development

Fathers and sons fishing along the canal, we saw a number of them on the way
We passed only three other boats, all heading in the opposite direction which was not encouraging! Had we not been getting the train to Oxford from Coventry tomorrow I think we may have got to Coventry and turned around again! The Canal Basin itself is not too bad, it just looks as though it's waiting for something to happen to bring it to life – so much more could be done with and to it.

The canal basin and our mooring
We took a walk into Coventry ( and saw the statue of Lady Godiva. For those who don’t know the story – which may or may not be true apparantly – Lady Godvia’s husband, Earl Leofric, was taxing the local people too highly and she asked him to lower or abolish the taxes. He said that he would only do that if she rode horseback naked through the streets of Coventry. Being a very modest woman, this was something that she found abhorrent, but wanted to free the people. So she asked them to stay behind closed doors and shut all the blinds while she did this. As the people had a lot of respect for her, they all agreed and no-one looked – apart that is from one man called, yes you guessed it, Tom! And he was struck blind, or so the story goes. Hence the saying ‘peeping Tom’. The Earl, true to his word, abolished the taxes so Lady Godiva is revered for her self sacrifice and there is a beautiful statue in her honour in the centre of town.
We also visited the ruins of the Cathedral that was almost obliterated in World War Two when the Germans, on 14 November 1940, bombed Coventry almost to bits over a period of 11 hours, killing many inhabitants. The Tower and outer walls were the only things left standing, and still are today – you can climb the Tower for £2.50 if you’re feeling fit. I suggested Barry may want to do the climb to take in the view and maybe some photo’s, but he declined! A ‘modern’ Cathedral has been joined to the ruins (but we didn’t go in because there was a ‘suggested donation’ of £3 each and we’re on a tight budget!), part of which was built by German volunteers. Coventry has, it seems, become very much a city of ‘peace and reconciliation’ and is twinned with many towns the world over. We also visited the museum and art gallery (because admission was free!) where the history of the War was told, many stories of ways that they are trying to make sure that the devastation that they suffered, the worst in England, never happens to anyone in the future.

Old meets new - little survived the blitz of 1940

Lady Godiva's statue

The ruins of the cathedral

The 'peace and reconciliation' sculpture - its twin has been gifted to Japan

The old and the new once more - many references to this in Coventry

Raw steel sculptures, rusting gracefully, commemorating buildings lost in the bombings

The twin spires through the roof of the museum and art gallery

Bachus (God of wine) and Ariadne who he saved from an island and married

Beautiful painting of what Lady Godiva may have looked like

Some rather large doors

A very old pub - The Golden Cross. One of the few to survive the bombing

The Council Buildings

Also in the museum was a ‘Jacquard Loom’ which was used to weave ribbons, a lucrative venture for Coventry until 1860. Once that industry was in decline, around 4,000 people emigrated (or were they sent?!) to New Zealand, USA, Canada and Australia.

The saying 'being sent to Coventry', has two possible origins. One is from the 14th Century and is to do with the White Friars, an order of Monks. The novices found the austerity difficult, which may be one of the meanings of the saying. The other story is from the Civil War in the 17th Century when the Royalist forces were imprisoned in St John the Baptists Church and the citizens of Coventry shunned them.

The hub of the town centre is the usual mass of high street shops and shopping centres. We had to walk across to the other side of town to find the Railway Station that we have to get to by 0915 tomorrow morning, travelling to Oxford to see Kim, so no long lie-in for us ... Oxford will be a stark difference to Coventry, that’s for certain!

The weather has been very humid today, and there's a heat wave warning for next week in England with temperatures set to reach 30 degrees - sorry to rub it in Kiwi's, but Barry did say it would be a hot one because he's here, they really will start offering to pay him to return each year with his record!! Check it out:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sandra/Barry,
    Sorry we didn't get to have a chat the other day, we were heading to Braunston and wanted to get a mooring for the weekend. Hope to see you again sometime
    Kev & Ann (4Evermoore)