Radford Road Bridge to Two Boats, Long Itchington
5 miles, 10 locks
I believe I sad in the last blog that I would try to keep up and here I am playing catch up again - I do have an excuse - not a glimmer of internet to be found in Long Itchington.
The day dawned bright and sunny. With 10 locks ahead of us we decided it would be prudent to make and early start to get a step ahead. These must have had a single lock along side them at some time in the past - a testament as to how busy this 'super highway of the waterways was' in its heyday. As we were going up in the first lock, joy of joys a boat came round the corner. Too late for that lock,
but we went ahead into the second lock to wait for them
and here they are - nb Waterloo Sunset
Slipping in beside us
A crew of two with boat dog Barney
Not only does it save water when you share, it is also easier and you have the pleasure of the company of another crew and can pass the time of day finding out where they are off to etc. We thought we recognised the boat and we were right - they spent the winter in Droitwich Spa Marina and are now heading for Froudes Bridge on the Kennet and Avon.
At one lock there was a flurry of activity with two going down, but there is plenty of room to pass,
They made our journey a lot more interesting, entertaining and less effort, so we thank them for their company and wish them safe travels.
We moored temporarily before Bridge 25 and Chris walked ahead to see if there were spaces the other side that were well away from the pub - there were, so we moved and walked into Long Itchington to the shop - a fair sized Co Op, but quite a trek. This place to us will always be the town of the Pink Lorries as we saw our first one ever at almost this same spot. I have to say that the driver was exceedingly courteous and forward thinking - we had not even arrived at the zebra crossing when he stopped in anticipation that we wanted to cross.
Back on the boat we got a text message from our friend who lives in Spain. She is over visiting her son, daughter in law and very nearly 7 year old granddaughter. The message was - 'where would we be on Saturday?' To cut a long story short (the phone signal was almost non existent and there was no internet, so communication was tortuous) it was agreed that they would come and join us and do some locks on with us. We walked up to the Blue Lias to check out the moorings and the plan was we would move the boat up two locks early Saturday morning, they would join us, we would have lunch in the pub and they would do the last eight locks with us and then walk back down to head home.
As you can see we would have no trouble mooring at the pub.
Saturday 12th August 2017
Long Itchington to The Boat Inn, Birdingbury Wharf, B21
1.5 miles, 10 locks
We were up and off early again and once again in mostly sunny and warm weather. One thing we found out yesterday when we walked up to the Blue Lias was that just before the bottom lock on the Stockton Flight there is a small ginnel. Go through it and you come out by some garages, go past them and turn right and there is a small shop. It only has the basics, but is so much closer than the Co Op if you only want a paper.
The two locks were done in good time and we moored at the water point opposite the Blue Lias at around 09:00 when I received a call from our friend - due to circumstances beyond her control they were not going to be able to make it. A disappointment all round, however, these things happen and it was just one of those things. So we continued to fill the tank and decided to move across to the pub moorings to have a coffee and look at the book to decide what, if anything, we were going to do.
A good plan, but this is where things went awry - all boaters if you come this way, please take note of the following to avoid what happened to me. Chris moved the boat back across the cut and I got off with the middle rope - something I have done too many times to count. What I did not spot was this
and I went flying! It is solid. Looking at this picture you can see how lucky I was not to crack my head or teeth on the bench. As is was I have ended up with two bruised and battered knees and a graze on my right forearm - thankfully no broken bones. It did shake me up, but to my credit I did not let go of the rope! Mind all I did was sit on a bench with it and left the mooring up to Chris. Never was a cup of coffee more welcome. We decided that we would continue and I opted to walk and open the locks whilst Chris drove the boat and closed up behind him. I felt I needed to exercise my sore joints to ease things out.
As we entered the first lock we noted a boat just entering the second lock - how delightful we thought, assuming they would wait and we could share the locks. However, although we were in plain view, they shut the gate and continued on up. With Chris opening the top gate, dropping the paddle, taking the boat out and then shutting the gate it means I can go ahead to prepare the next lock, so we were gaining on them. As I arrived at one lock, the boat was still in the lock, the lady had opened the gate and was fiddling round with her phone whilst the helmsman had gone up to the next lock to open the paddles before coming back to move his boat. I think they then decided they should speed up and they spent the next few locks running at full tilt from one lock to the next and back again! We must be pretty dreadful for folks to go to such lengths to avoid sharing a lock! Had there been a water shortage I would have said something, however, I took a quiet delight watching the effort it took them to maintain their distance!!
We arrived at the top in an unhurried and relaxed fashion despite my aching joints!
The decision was made to stop at The Boat Inn with this rather charming caravan in the garden.
Sore knees need TLC, so we went across the bridge to the pub for lunch and I have to say it was excellent - one of the best paninis either of us has had for a long time.
I am rather stiff and I think tomorrow morning might be a challenge, but we have decided that we will let the pub do the catering tonight as well. If lunch was anything to go by, it should be good.