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Monday, 14 September 2009

Cruising again:- to Worcester & Tardebigg!!

We stopped at our base in Debdale for longer than we originally intended as we were just too busy seeing people & doing things. One of the things we did was to go to the National Festival at Red Hill at the junction of the river Soar onto the Trent. We were surprised by how good the site looked, though the traffic queues getting off the M1 were not good, much of the traffic not going to the Festival but going to Nottingham. What also surprised us was the weather. We had left home barely 30 miles away in bright warm sun, dressed in shorts & T shirts, and we only took a light waterproof each. At Red Hill the sun was mostly covered by clouds, and there was a very crisp wind blowing. I spent much of the time on our IWA Branch stand, pleasant meeting old and new friends, but chilly.

Monday 7th September on a warm day we set off at mid day and had only a short wait to be 5th boat up the Foxton Locks. The day brightened especially as we didn’t meet a boat going through Husbands Bosworth tunnel and we had an enjoyable cruise arriving at 5.15 on the Avon Embankment where we polished the boat as we set off in April. 9 miles & 10 locks

Tuesday 8th dawned bright but overcast but it improved as the day went on and warmed up significantly. We were off at 9.15 and cruised steadily, the pound is shallow in many places. We stopped for a newspaper and bits & pieces at Crick before passing through the very wet Crick Tunnel, again not meeting a boat!! All the day we had met a large number of boats coming the other way.

Approaching Crick this building is part of a farm, yes it is one of the old Pre-Fabs.
We arrived at the top of Watford at 3.15 and were the 5th boat, but there was a batch coming up and even more waiting. Suffice to say that we only dropped down the first lock on that batch and then waited for the next 6 or 7 to come up. I spent some of the time touching up the black on the hull. We eventually finished the flight at 6.15 and cruised on to tie up close to where we had stopped for repairs in April at about 7. 14 miles & 7 locks

Chris the lock keeper was telling me how her husband, also a lock keeper & whose name escapes me, had parked his car overnight in a lay-by in Braunston the previous weekend and that some kind youths had torched it. By the sounds of it the car was much as is mine, cheap & old, but it is a major inconvenience.

Cruising along on Tuesday we passed 4 British Waterways workboats at work including bits of “dredging” with the spoil spread on the edge of the towpath, good to see work being done, but Lily rode over underwater obstructions at 2 locks.

Wednesday 9th Another good day forecast and we were off at 9! Amazingly when we entered the long and bendy Braunston tunnel we could see right through it. Never have we been able to do that before, and this was with a boat preceding us, but in a kink. More amazing was that we did not meet another boat going through the tunnel, again a first.

We caught up with the very pleasant couple on the boat ahead of us at the top of the Braunston flight and had an easy descent, exchanging pleasantries and meeting boats coming up at most of the locks, making the passage even easier. By 11.30 we had tied up at the bottom to see the Fender maker and then stayed put until we had finished our lunch, setting off again at 1.

The day was sunny but with a cool breeze but we made good progress, speeding down the 3 locks at Hillmorton, meeting boats each time. We tried to reach Newbold this day to meet up with our friends Mike & Gerry from Debdale, but they rang and said there were no moorings there so we stopped short by bridge 58 in Rugby. There is a large Tesco alongside, which we used, as we did the nearby cinema. It was Wednesday & Carol has an Orange phone contract & we used their 2 for 1 Orange Wednesday scheme to see the new Meryl Streep film,” Julie & Julia “, on its opening day in the UK. We thoroughly enjoyed it, & only £5.25 for the 2 of us. 14 miles & 9 locks.

Thursday 10th Mike & Gerry arrived about 10 and we had a good jaw over coffee. We were off at 11.30, we needed to get to Ansty as we had invited friends to supper and this would be an easy place to get to. As I had cast off both fore & aft ropes & before I had eased out a boat came round the nearby bend, so I waited, and another one came, followed by 4 more!! A boat came past going our way & then I was off, only to meet another boat coming round the bend! Just after that the boat I was following moved over to the left (the wrong side) just as another boat was coming the other way! He was heading to moor up, but given the chaos of the previous several minutes, very disturbing.

It was another bright, sunny day with a cool wind and lots of boats coming the other way again but we found out that it was boats returning from a boat Rally on the Ashby Canal. We got to Ansty about 3 having covered just 9 miles 7 no locks. We had a lovely evening, Carol doing her usual magic with the cooking.

Friday 11th Another bright & sunny day, cool wind , but not as strong as the previous days. Carol had slept badly on Tuesday & Wednesday nights with her back, but Thursday night she slept well and was far from anxious to rise. We picked some blackberries, had a light lunch & set off at 1.15 having watched first practice for the Italian G.P., setting off just as the boat in front set off too, timing! Slow cruising to finish up past Nuneaton near bridge 27 at 5.30 having covered 9 miles and 1 lock.

Saturday 12th and a FANTASTIC day. Bright warm sun and little breeze all day. We set off at 8.15 to make suitable progress before stopping to watch qualifying for the Italian GP. Yet again as I had cast off the bows a boat passed us, going our way. After about ½ mile we passed Valley Cruisers and exchanged greetings with the couple with whom we had descended Braunston locks, they had enjoyed a fantastic holiday. A short way further on I recognised the man walking his dog, it was the lock keeper from Marlow lock who had allowed us to moor on part of his weir in July. His boat Time Warp had been moored a short distance in front of Lily last night.

We passed through 9 of the Atherstone locks before stopping for qualifying, setting off again at 2.30 we cruised on gently to Polesworth and moored outside Pooley Hall. I had often tried to see it better as we cruised past on previous trips, but decided this time to go for a walk to see what I could see. From the road it was still shrouded by trees but as I had seen brown signs to a Pooley outdoor centre I thought it might be at the Hall, so I walked down the drive.

Getting closer I could see it wasn’t, and was turning to go back to the road when a new Range Rover drew alongside & the occupants asked if they could help. When they heard what I was trying to do they invited me to go closer & see the place which was started as a fortfied tower in 1504. It is now split into 3 or 4 homes, and very lovely too. The following morning a chap walking the towpath asked if I knew who used to live there? Edwin Starr the American soul singer used to own the place it seems.

Total of 9 miles & 11 locks.

Sunday 13th September started as another bright morning, but with more breeze and by mid day it had clouded over and required a sweatshirt, though still in shorts and sandals. Steady cruise to the edge of Tamworth, stopped to get the Sunday papers as Sally & Mark in Forever Young passed us, last seen in Crick Marina and before that at Debdale as their new Piper boat was to be lifted out to be repainted as the paint was lifting. Paint looks good now, we had a look at it as we met them at the top of Glascote locks. They were on a long cruise this day, we were just aiming to get through the locks in time to watch the GP, and we tied up just as the program started.

Race over we tootled on another half mile to Fazeley junction where we used the services to fill and empty, and seeing a good mooring opposite we decided to move across and tie up for the night. After 4 ½ miles and 2 locks we were shattered!!! I wandered up onto the road alongside to see what was there and they obviously like cooking in Fazeley, there were 3 Indian restaurants, 1 Cantonese, plus about 5 take-aways. We opted for the Cantonese and very good it was too.

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