Wednesday, 30 June 2021
We departed about quarter to ten this morning, one boat had come up the locks and as we were making ready a second came up, this gave us quite a good run with the locks, one against and a couple down a bit on the whole fine. a steady run from the bottom of the locks to Fazeley Junction, as I exited the bridge just prior to the junction a chap indicated for me to stop as there was a boat about to come under the bridge from Coventry, he enquired which way we were going and then waved the other boat out, all by hand signal at about 50 yards or more. We swung onto the Coventry canal and headed to Glascote Locks, A hire boat had just closed up after coming down as we came into sight, so I just dropped Diana in the mouth of the lock and she was able to easily open the gates. As we were going up a boat entered the top lock so that was also ready for us with the gates open. Frome here it was a straight run back to the marina. I completely cocked up reversing down to our spot, not a breath of wind , mirror calm, sun shine and me just too relaxed, any change in conditions and my level of concentration would have been much higher. It wasn't until the stern was in the slot, sliding back along the pontoon when we had the only puff of wind to throw the bows round.
Now we are back I have to set to and remove the water pump from the engine, it has the tiniest of leaks but a good wobble on the pulley I am surprised its not leaking more, but obviously now I know it has to be done, probably been like it years.
Tuesday, 29 June 2021
A nice peaceful night last night, during the evening a chap went up the towpath opposite in a Sinclair C5. A couple of boats came up before we set off so the bottom three locks should be with us, wrong, they must leak. This is the site of the massive landslide that closed the canal, it doesn't look so massive now but they were lucky not to lose the building, there is a good crack down the wall.The nearby lock cottage may not belong to CRT but it's almost in CRT colours, just the wrong shade of blue.There is another cantilever bridge near the bottom of the flight, this one is a more interesting shape than the last with bit of a curve to it.
As we passed under one of the large concrete road bridge we passed the chap who had gone up the flight last night on his C5, he was drinking with his mates one who had an invalid scooter.I just love this house in Minworth with it bus stop and other items in their front gardens, it brightens things up.
This couple were working their way along the towpath, picking up litter and depending what it was it went into one of several carrier bags or the bin on his sack barrow.
There are two large willow trees that now blocking the visibility along the canal, one each side of Dickens Bridge, another email to CRT, I hope other boaters do the same.Meeting a boat coming out of Curworth top lock filled us with hope that maybe some of the locks would be with us, but no, we caught up with the boat going down ahead just as we moored up for the night, it was the first time we had seen them.
The offside grass down the Curdworth Locks has been put aside for wild flowers, when I saw the notices about this last autumn I was worried that the lock sides would become overgrown, but that's not happened and its being well managed with a strip being mowed along the side of the lock.
This is the only bright colourful yellow field of rape we have seen glowing in the sun shine. There is very little change at the site of the HS2 crossing, both the telegraph pole and the mooring bollards have disappeared. A little further on is a very unusual sight where the paddle retaining chains are still in use at this lock, most of them are just left dangling beside the paddle gear. We carried on down to moor for the night just above lock 7, this is one of the quietest spots we have been able to find down here with the motorway following the canal. Diana was preparing dinner and looked out through the side hatch to this view, a red sky at night is a shepherds delight. Lets hope its right.
Monday, 28 June 2021
It was no problem finding somewhere to eat last night, we ended up at Indico a supposedly Indian Street food restaurant where you get a selection of dishes with a selection of flavours. The place was very quiet just like most of the other establishments.
Seeing this sign set me thinking who actually owns the towpath here, I suspect its Brindley Place and CRT just manage it.
This morning we again woke to the sound of rain so didn't move until 11-30am. other than saying goodbye to Bob and Rosemary who were moored ahead of us we haven't seen another boat on the move. We reversed out from our mooring onto the main line and headed down to Cambrian Wharf to fill with water and dispose of the rubbish, but the tap was so slow we gave up well before the tank was full.
We had just set off down the locks when a Volocky came up carrying a tyre he had retrieved from a lock, when he had deposited it in a suitable location, the bin, he returned and asked Diana if we were OK or would we like a hand, she enquired if it was not his lunch time but he said he hadn't done anything except talk to people all day so was pleased to help. He was ace, he went ahead and had every top gate open ready for us all the way to the bottom of the farmers Bridge flight.
The flight is decked out with scaffolding with some interesting engineering solutions to support it. It seems that wooden cladding on high rise buildings may not have been such a good idea, but I expect they received a "green" award for it calming it to be sustainable and a low carbon footprint I would also suggest it was not a good idea to build such buildings with no means of access for maintenance, if they had left the wood it would have required attention in the next few years.With our Volockies help were soon down the 13 locks and on our way to the Aston Flight, again they were all against us so required a bit more work with us setting ahead, so the next lock was full by the time the one we were in was empty, a lot more walking about but a lot faster. I had my first brush with an Escooter here, someone had left it parked lock side in the quadrant of the tail gate, so I moved it to the other side of the towpath to the grass, it will still probably be in the canal tonight. As we worked the Stratford Canal I mentioned split cantilevered bridges to get the tow rope through, well there are a couple of cantilever bridges on this flight, but the gap for the rope is at the towpath side, not in the centre.Now one for all you people so knowledgeable about the history of the canal in the Birmingham area. Why has this section of wall behind the towpath ended up with holes in it which since they were no longer needed have had metal grills fitted. The first is the size of a pair of double gates but they are probably 15 foot from the ground. Just below lock 8 we passed this, could it be the site of the major landslide that closed the canal last month or will we see evidence of that further down, this just looks like a wall falling over.
We continued on just a little further to moor on the offside in front of the office blocks with their rather green water feature
Sunday, 27 June 2021
We set off slightly earlier today as we needed a few things from Halfords and Sainsbury's at Selly Oak. It was rather quite chilly this morning and I had a jumper on and even then wasn't warm. The North Stratford was dug wide as far as the top of the locks when it turned narrow for the locks. Since it was built BWB have installed a narrows for inserting stop planks, it looks as if a lot of people have failed to see it as the wooden fendering is long gone and the steel bolts bent all ways. We chugged along until eventually we came to Brandwood tunnel, we had probably met 6 or more boats by now, 3 of them in the narrows opposite Lyons Boat Yard. The tunnel was reasonably dry and we didn't meet anyone in there but we did meet a hire boat just after we exited, he was on a lovely line to enter the tunnel, saw me, panicked, hard astern, the bows swung round right across the canal blocking our path completely. While he was sorting himself out I was able to take this photo of the northern portal.We carried on eventually passing through lock No.1, this was just a stop lock to protect the canal companies water, it doesn't matter how often it gets painted the kids with the spray cans are back ion a week. This is not far from Kings Norton Junction where we joined the Worcester and Birmingham canal also originally built broad from Worcester Bar to the top of Tardebigge. There is a Toll house standing on the junction which was vandalised some years ago resulting in a fire, very little has been done to restore it in the intervening couple of years. The finger post on the junction could also do with some love and care with all the paint flaking and one finger is definitely drooping. (The white wooden one)
As we passed Bournville not only were the off side secure visitor moorings full there were also a couple of boat moored on the towpath as well. When we arrived at Selly Oak I dropped Diana off to go to Halfords while I tried to hover but the wind round the new student accommodation made it very hard work, I was about to give up and reverse under the bridge when a boat appeared who had been moored at Bournville, as he came passed he informed me there was a two day stoppage at the University Rail Station for heavy lifts across the canal and it had an opening window 12-1pm which he was hoping to make, so as soon as Diana reappeared the trip to Sainsbury's was aborted and we made all hast towards the stoppage where we joined the queue of 4 boats, the lifting had over run and the canal was still closed, opening at 12-30pm, so we got there in time. Once open we all set off again in convoy to Edgbaston Tunnel. This was build as a broad tunnel with tow path, but a couple of years ago CRT decided to widen the towpath and hence make the tunnel into one way Narrowboat working.
As we came into Birmingham I was surprised how quiet it was, the last Sunday in June and not a single boat moored in gas Street, I don't think I have even seen that in winter, even the café boat was gone. We headed for our favourite Birmingham mooring round behind the Sea Life Centre, luckily for us there was just one space, right behind Nb.Sefton who we had cruised with last time out to Walsall basin.
Saturday, 26 June 2021
Firstly some information from feed back I have received.
It was suggest that the iron paddle posts were not original South Stratford lock furniture but were actually borrowed from the Monmouth and Brecon Canal when the South Stratford was restored and were use to replace missing wooden posts possibly like these on the North Stratford canal.
I think last nights rain must have encouraged an angler in one of the upper pounds to pack up quickly and go home as these were left in the bank.
As I entered lock 7 this little chap sat on the lock handrail to watch my progress, he didn't comment on my steering abilities which was nice of him.
On our we we made a brief stop at bridge 20 to visit Wedges bakery for some cakes and things.
Friday, 25 June 2021
Last night dinner was taken at the Fleur de Lys at an indoor table. There seemed plenty of space around the diners but it was mid week. I don't often eat chips these days but I must say last nights were really good.
I checked the emails when we got back to the boat and there was one to say that lock 17 on the North Stratford would be closed this morning for emergency repairs to a cill so today was rather a lazy start at 10-30am. We had mixed luck at the locks as several boats had gone up ahead of us, but we also met a few locks.
One of the points of interest for me were these buildings on the offside just before the old railway bridge, maybe there was once a railway Halt here at Lowsonford.Beside one of the locks I spotted this seat in memory of Doug Smith, the founder of Lockmaster maps, probably the first canal map we bought that Diana's mother painted in watercolours for us.When we went down the flight some paddle gear was covered in nice little brightly coloured C&RT bags to show they are out of action, now we are back to black bin bags, maybe there are so many paddles out they don't have enough coloured bags, one even doesn't warrant a bag and just has a label, that 5 paddles between Stratford and Kingswood Junction.
I don't know if this has any significance but the sheep were all laying under the trees, I know if all the cows are in a huddle it indicates the coming weather. Coming up the last lock of the S Stratford there was a strange noise from the stern gear. We needed water and pulled over to the services, while the tank filed I delved down the weedhatch and found yet another side fender tied to my propeller. From here all the pounds up to lock 17 were full of boats waiting to go up, so we decided to reverse down the link towards the Grand Union and tied up for a couple of hours until things started to move, we then went back onto the Stratford and when the next boat dropped down through lock 21 re started a slow journey up to between locks 14 and 15 to moor for the night.
When we set off this morning it was cool, overcast and almost raining, after lunch it was sunny and hot, now this evening it not only raining but also thunder and lightning.