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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Through Birmingham to Autherley Junction

Monday 21st May a lovely day and we returned from our trip to Chichester at just after 2pm, the railway platform being just a couple of hundred yards from where Lily was moored. We had a slight problem as our domestic batteries were almost completely drained, yet all we had left switched on was the inverter and the alarm it was running. Big mystery and still not resolved, and the complete discharge has totally upset the alarm. I bought this from Digitek in Leicester & they are very helpful, far better than our previous one from a South African chap who used to moor in Debdale, so much better to have technical bods on the end of the phone.
On the Stratford someone has made these hearts and
has attached them to many locks

Anyway, we started the engine & cruised on to a lovely mooring a mile short of the Tam i th’ Wood, where we moored on the off-side & I was able to re-polish the starboard side, which I will keep doing regularly as the paint has lost much of its original lustre unless the paint is fed with fresh polish. Anyway, a couple of hours of polishing and a few pence worth of polish is a lot cheaper than a re-paint!!

Tuesday 22nd and I start getting my pension today and another lovely day. We stopped to empty out at Kingswood Junction, in so doing we were passed by Martin & Mo in The Tartan Rose. What a great chap, on his folding bike he dealt with their locks, & then drew a paddle to start to fill the locks for us. 
A lovely spot on the Lapworth flight

They cruise more speedily than Carol & I, they were on the way to Llangollen whilst on their way to The Lee where he is Habourmaster for the boats coming to the Olympics.
At work on my birthday

It was a lovely day, the first day for shorts this year. We crossed with a couple of boats in the flight and stopped for lunch before finishing the last four locks. Two lift bridges and a couple more miles and we stopped in Hockley Heath.
I had looked on the internet about restaurants in Hockley & the best one seemed to be one that had recently changed names, & on Google Maps it looked close to the canal, but when I looked I saw the other 3, but not The Oak (new name). I asked a pair of blokes taking a beer outside a club & they said it was about 15 mins walk out of the I decided we’d go to the large Miller & Carter pub. On the way I hoped we were going to call in at the garage by The Wharf to pick up my birthday present from Carol...they sold McLarens & Rolls Royces, no joy!
Meal was good but not cheap and rounded off a good day.
Our Hockley Heath mooring

Wednesday 23rd and another hot day forecast so we set off a bit earlier than usual at 8.30. Much of the cruise was in slight cuttings or where the canal had plenty of tree cover, keeping it cooler than might have been. With the slight cover the canal-side flowers were beautiful, obviously relishing the warmer weather after the rains that gave better growing conditions.
One powered lift bridge in the morning was where we caught up with a hire boat & the crew operated it for us. 
Rounding ?! Kings Norton junction

Arriving at Kings Norton the boat in front made a bit of a Horlicks of its right turn, so I took a wide line & we were looking good, until there was a clatter from the prop. I snatched it into reverse and the prop was absolutely jammed! Lily’s bows slowly floated into the bank & I hopped off with a rope & started to pull her through the junction bridge. Fortunately there were a few healthy chaps around who helped the pulling as the canal was very shallow & I couldn’t move her on my own.

Once tied up I got down into the engine bay & started down the weed hatch, but it was awfully warm as the engine had been working for 3 hours. A quick feel around and there was a 4inch diameter log jammed across the bottom of the weed hatch with one blade of the prop that had cut into it. I set to with saws, not easy in the working position. I tried prising it, chiselling it and everything, but it was over an hour and a half before I was able to free it. I was a little shattered!
At work in the weed hatch

We carried on into Gas St, stopping at Holiday Wharf to fill at another incredibly slow tap, what is it with BW and slow taps, the one at Cambrian Wharf nearby is chronically slow too. The other thing at these facilities is that BW have marked out the length reserved for using the services, but they have only allocated 60 feet, so when we filled our stern lay alongside another boat.

Thursday & Friday was spent in Brum. Thursday was our 43rd wedding anniversary, I having carefully set our wedding day as 2 days after my birthday so birthday cards to me remind me to get one for Carol!! Whilst having a coffee on our anniversary we sat alongside a  lovely young asian couple & got chatting. You could have knocked me down with a feather when they told us they had been married for 11 years, she didn't look anywhere near old enough! Two kids at school and very happy couple, yet theirs was an arranged marriage, they only met on their wedding day. All we can say is that their parents must have done their homework well, especially as she had been born in the UK, he came over from Pakistan for their wedding. So, despite everything one reads or hears about arranged marriages, they obviously can work well.
BMX Championship course. I understand it took over 7000 tons of material

One thing we did was go into the NIA and watched some preliminary rounds of the UCI BMX World Championships. We had seen bits of this sport on TV & one Brit girl was reckoned to be in with a shout at Beijing. It cost us only £5 each & it was really quite interesting and we saw both the existing Olympic champ & World champ plus European champs. I don’t know if we’d bother again, but it was truly international, we were sitting with the crowd from Brazil numbering well over 50 plus large continents from many other countries.
Moored alongside the NIA

We also bought new straw hats to keep us cooler in the forecast hot days to come....I’ve got another one somewhere, but where????

Saturday 26th another scorching day, but we decided to stay put till after qualifying for the Monaco GP. We had put 100 litres of fuel in from the fuel barge, I was rather shocked to see how low it was in the tank. 99p self declared. Carol forced herself to enjoy a coffee before qualifying, plus we used the lovely weather to get our washing dry in double quick time.

The Main Line is lovely, you are almost unaware of the surroundings

We were away just before 3 and covered 7 ½ miles and three locks till we stopped above the Factory Locks a bit past 6.

I have signed up to Groupon & we have had several good deals with them on their daily offers, and in an offer today Digitek (the alarm company) have a deal on. It’s not the boat alarm, but you might wangle a discount. By the way, our alarm is wireless and has an internal siren, but it raises the alarm through a mobile phone call to as many phones as you want, plus we can switch it on, off or check its status with our phones.

Sunday 27th and another scorching day. Last evening I was reading the latest Towpath Talk and read about an arson attack on a boat in the yard on the offside just above the Factory Locks, all that was left is the charred remains in my photo. I don't think we would have moored here if we had known, as it was we had a lovely quiet night.
Arson near our moorings

I walked to get papers, but Times available! Never mind, we set off about 9.30 and cruised for around 4 miles through surprisingly lovely surroundings and meeting 2 boats. It clearly used to be heavily industrialised, with many steel works, but now they ave nearly all been cleared and many housing estates and retail parks. 
An old overhead crane, derelict.

About half a mile before the junction with the Curly Whurly we tied up for lunch & the Monaco GP. 

Away at 3, only one boat had passed us while moored, but exactly as we reached Horseley Fields Junction a BW tug with a work boat in tow emerged, incredible timing! 
The work party allowed us past first

A short while later we arrived at Wolverhampton Top Lock.......just as a boat was entering the flight! We had never done this flight before and it really was pleasant, though of course every paddle has to be locked with the Watermate key. We were glad to complete the flight of 21 locks on this warm day, turning into the Shroppie and tying up for the night at around 7.

Our week totted up 44 miles and 45 locks. Now we are off to Chester for the Jubilee Weekend. 

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