Monday, 23 April 2018

From Pub to Pub

Sunday 22nd April 2018
Cuttle Bridge Inn to The Dog & Doublet
3 miles, 8 locks, 1 tunnel

Firstly I am glad to say that I was not as bruised or sore this morning as I thought I would be.

A much more leisurely start was called for today and we did not move off until around 09:30.  Although it was only a short trip compared to yesterday I don't think either of us really enjoyed it.  The locks at Curdworth do have one thing going for them - a bridge at the bottom gates which makes getting to and fro so much easier.  The gates, however, are very heavy and sometimes very hard to move.

Someone has made an attempt to make the flight looked loved

and the views are pleasant enough

however the canal is very dirty, so not in the least attractive

and within a 100 yards of setting off it was down the weed hatch to retrieve a large Aldi bag - not recycled as the bag requests

There is also the constant traffic noise from the M6 to contend with.  I think it will be at least another 10 years, if ever, before we come this way again.

First stop was to go to the shop in Curdworth - thankfully they had the paper, but very little else.  It seemed to be the place to go if you wanted sweets, crisps and chocolate, but no chance of anything fresh.  We also stopped to get water which was not without its difficulties as the pound between locks 1 and 2 was very low and we could not get the stern near the bank as we kept going aground.  Still we managed, the job was done and we were on our way.  We did actually meet a boat coming up today, so a lot of the locks were set for us.

We moored before lunch with a view of the Dog and Doublet in the background

The weather was good enough to get the whirlygig out and nb Araf (we were moored in front of them at Stoke Pound last Saturday week) came and joined us mid afternoon.

Once moored we had had enough, so here we are for the night.  A few jobs have been done including splitting the newest bags of coal from 2 x 25 kg bags to 4 roughly 12.5 kg.  They are now safely stowed away in our bow locker meaning the bow well deck is now pretty clear.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

13 locks, 7600+ steps, 3.3 miles & 52 minutes of exercise and all before breakfast!

Saturday 21st April 2018
Cambrian Wharf to Wiggins Hill Bridge, Curdworth
27 locks, 7.75 miles

06:30 and the alarm sounded.  Despite the noise from the pub we had both slept well and were up  & raring to go.  Well to be honest it was probably more a factor of necessity rather than 'raring'.

We first did today's route in 2008, but then we were on a hire boat called 'Barrovian Passion'

with two friends

and after the first thirteen locks we picked up their son who was in his 20's, so many hands really did make light work.

We certainly got a lot further then than we did today, but there were more of us and we were 10 years younger than we are now!

We knew we were in for a challenging day to allow us to get far enough away from the city centre to find an acceptable mooring, but more importantly a safe one.  Also it was going to be hot again, so the sooner we set off the better.  After a quick wash & brush up,  a cup of tea and Monty's bodily needs seen to, at 07:23 we were off and heading for the first lock just a quick reverse and a few yards from where we were moored.

We soon got into a good rhythm with Chris shutting the top gates and opening a paddle on the bottom gates whilst I walked ahead to get the next lock ready.  Every one of the 27 we were to do today was empty, so needed filling before we could enter.

Monty was eager and sitting up to perform his supervisory role, although I think he was wondering where all the grass had gone.

The bridge at the bottom of lock 4 is called Saturday Bridge

why you may wonder?

At lock 6 there is a museum that is on our wish list to visit one day.

Lock 9 goes into the bowels of the earth - well it is dark enough under the building to seem that way

Things get a little brighter when you get to lock 10 after which you emerge from under the buildings.  I found it quite a surreal experience, even though we have done it before.

Suddenly at lock 11 the lock beam is on the non towpath side of the canal

as the towpath is just too narrow - please note that Monty is still sitting up on the job

The Post Office Tower dominates as you look back for quite a long time

Pretty it isn't, but there are points of interest just the same - this building for instance.  I would love to know who the two faces are?  I had picked out the male image at the time, but it was not until I looked at the photo that I made out a female image as well.  Chris who was closer did not pick them out at all - it is all in the angle and very cleverly done.

This sign gives some light relief to the endless graffiti

At the end of the 13 locks of the Farmer's Bridge flight you get a 17 minute reprieve before the Aston flight of 11.  Time enough to have a cuppa and a bit of breakfast before starting all over again!

This is the first of the Aston flight where

things do start to get a bit greener 

About half way down this flight Monty conceded defeat and was performing his supervisory role from a prone position - one he rarely adopts!

One bit of light relief for the visual senses was passing this rather attractive set of new apartments

On the Aston flight is this former lock cottage is

sadly defaced with graffiti

which was not in evidence in 2008.  The red paint has certainly lasted well, or it has been recently repainted.  It must be heartbreaking to have your home that is obviously loved and cared for defaced.

Shortly after the Aston flight (by this time I had clocked up 12,000 steps and walked 5.6 miles) we stopped to off load rubbish and 'yellow water'.  I hope Pip from nb Oleana does not mind me using her terminology - so much more refined than emptying the wee pot!!  Sadly this is where things went wrong for me - I was intending going up the back steps to the stern with the things to be disposed of in my hands, but I missed my footing and went flying.  Thankfully there is a good tight fitting lid on the yellow water container!  I think I was just too tired and lost my concentration.  The result was that Chris did disposal duties whilst I sat on the back deck moaning and groaning and not daring to look at my shins, both of which hurt a lot.  When I did pluck up the courage to look it was just the left one that had sustained a nasty graze, despite both being very sore.  It is three years since I ended up with a leg abscess just below the site of the new wound, so we both have everything crossed that this will heal without too much trouble.  We had about an hour of cruising to do before the next lock, so I went to have a shower to try to ensure the wound was clean before I applied antiseptic cream and a would dressing.   I also had a sore left shoulder and index finger on my left hand.  Tomorrow morning might be interesting!

Just three locks to go and we came across the first moving boat of the day - a single-hander going our way.  Having emptied 24 locks already, 3 more was hardly going to be a problem. 

As you arrive at Minworth you are rewarded with the welcome site of a lovely home and garden

and green open spaces with our first sighting of oil seed rape this year.

We staggered on until just past Wiggins Hill Bridge and The Cuttle Inn, which I think used to be called The Beehive Inn.  It was 14:23 when we moored - exactly 6 hours since we set off.

We were both exhausted and hungry - we kept putting off having lunch as the lure of a sandwich and a pint in the pub was just too great.  There was, however, one thing that needed to be done before we went for lunch - a trip down the weed hatch that produced a good haul! Now safely bagged up ready to be disposed of properly at the next refuse point.

It was 15:10 when we left for the Cuttle Inn

where we ended up having a meal - fish and chips for Chris and scampi and chips for me.  It meant we could just relax and not have to worry about cooking in the evening.  We were both so hungry we would have appreciated anything on offer, but even better than making do - both meals were excellent.

We returned to the boat to relax and unwind when we had a visitor

 I was dispatched to escort it off the premises.  To Monty this was a very unwelcome intruder - he had taken himself as far forward as he could and curled up in the corner to hide.

There was a little noise from the pub in the evening and mooring a bit further along would have been better, but once we had stopped we were not going anywhere else and I think we were both tired enough to sleep through an earthquake!

This was certainly not our finest day on the boat, but there was a sense of achievement to go along with the exhaustion.  As far as summing up the day, ignoring the obvious exertions I would say it was 




and finally evidence of some of the homeless folks in this country which made me all the more grateful for what we have.  Tomorrow is another day and it will be shorter and hopefully accident free.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Into Birmingham

Friday 20th April 2018
Hopwood B68 to Cambrian Wharf
9.5 miles, 0 locks, 2 tunnels

Yet another wonderfully warm sunny day greeted us this morning as we set off on the long, but lock free journey into central Birmingham.  Again this is a very familiar route to us, although at one point I could not remember why it seemed more than a year ago since I travelled this way as I knew we came south from Birmingham at the end of the last cruise.  The penny dropped after a while - it was because Chris did the trip solo whilst I met our daughter at the NEC for the Grand Designs Show and she drove me to Tardebigge at the end of the day.  Senior moments abound.

In our experience it is not often that herons stay put as a boat goes past, but this one did not budge.

The new building in the background (near Birmingham University) could be new student accommodation (?)

as we reckon this is a walkway over the railway and canal to the university itself

As expected we came across signs alerting us to major work at Edgbaston Tunnel which is now only one way traffic - I wonder if it will be controlled - traffic lights for boats perhaps?

We had not seen any boats moving all day, but where does one meet one?  At the one way point of course!!

The walkway is certainly going to be wider, but I am not sure how much easier it will be for pedestrians if cyclists try to go too fast.  The head room will still be limited.

It was an uneventful trip.  We paused briefly near the Mail Box, so I could get a few bits from the Tesco Express there.  This was a sunny Friday lunch time with many workers sitting out enjoying an alfresco lunch.

Going past Gas Street Basin the eyes were drawn to this rather sad sight.

Yet more people enjoying the weather as we pass The Malt House

to turn right towards Cambrian Wharf and a mooring that will make life very easy in the morning when we head off down Farmer's Bridge flight.

It did afford us a good view from the side hatch

The Volunteer Lock Keeper told us that this pub - The Flapper and Firkin - is due to shut this summer.  Apparently the brewery got an offer from a property developer that they could not afford to refuse.  It certainly is not due to being a failing pub - with the wonderful weather it was heaving and was busy late into the night.  We gather it will be replaced by a tower block.  Once complete it might make the Wharf a quieter mooring, but I guess there will be months if not years of noisy construction.

After lunch we headed out to try and access Sherbourne Wharf on foot to try and get some anti freeze.  Well we tried every which way and failed spectacularly - all routes seem to lead to locked gates.  Maybe we should have taken the water bus?  In the end we gave up and headed back to the boat for an early night in the hope we could ignore the noise from the pub.