Monday, 12 June 2017

We are off at last - 4 Tunnels, a 'monster' &The Boot

Friday 9th June 2017
Tardebigge to Earlswood
15.75 miles, 4 tunnels, 1 drawbridge, 1 stop lock

The bow thruster propeller took for ever to arrive.  It was posted on Monday 5th June, but did not arrive until Thursday!  It might have been quicker by narrow boat.  The repair was done Friday morning and we were away shortly after midday. 

The first challenge was reversing out of the dry dock area.  Slowly does it with Monty supervising all the way and we were out and off.

There is not much wriggle room

We rarely cruise for more than 4 hours, but we wanted to be in Lapworth by The Boot by Saturday, so we knuckled down and headed for Earlswood.  Quite a lot of miles, but no locks. 

It was a day, however of 4 tunnels.  First Tardebigge (580 yards), Shortwood (613 yards), Wast Hills (2726 yards and finally Brandwood (352 yards).  There were no boats in the three shorter tunnels, however we did get bashed by two boats in Wast Hills.  One helmsman put their boat into reverse as we approached so their bow swung across and struck us a resounding blow.  No damage done. 

The fishing ponds at Bittel were busy.  They get more mature each time we past.

There is some serious towpath shoring up going on as you approach Hopwood

The weather – well it was better than we had expected and we only experience a few very short sharp showers. 

So what about the monster?  Well we came across our very own ‘Nessie’!

Actually there were very many very large logs and trees half down we had to steer round – a testament to the wild May/June weather over the previous two weeks.

At one point the dogs and I were off the boat exercising our respective legs when a man stopped to tell me that we had missed all the fun.  He took great delight in regaling his tale of a man lying prone on the tow path seemingly completely out of it.  Even though it was mid afternoon alcohol was deemed to be the cause of his comatose state.  Apparently he suddenly got up, tottered about, decided to climb the embankment, did not make it so ended up rolling down and into the canal!  He floundered to the non-tow path side and then back again when a young lady got into the water to help get him out.   The man telling the tale did advise her that it was not the best move she had ever made as he could have drowned her as well.  Thankfully he was rescued. An ambulance had been called and the paramedics were left to deal with the casualty.  I think I am glad we missed it all. 

Just by way of a change Chris hopped off to stop the traffic at Shirley drawbridge – at 17:05 on a Friday we probably were not that popular!

Getting near to dinner time and two very attentive dogs.  The Black Lab is Kiera who belongs to friends of ours who had gone on holiday for a week.  I think this is her third trip with us, so she is now a seasoned ‘boat dog’.

Past the apartments and water feature at Dickens Heath

We were moored just before 18:30 on a lovely sunny evening with plenty of moorings we could take our pick.

Saturday 10th June 2017
Earlswood to The Boot, Lapworth
2.75 miles, 12 locks, 2 drawbridges

The day dawned dry and bright if not very warm.  This sad sight was spotted shortly after we set off

Monty, Kiera and did quite a bit of walking – a very peaceful and pretty stretch of canal and thankfully, for the most part, not too muddy.

The boat coming towards me in this photo was in front of us, but standing waiting for Chris to pick us up it did make me wonder why when you don’t see any boats for ages, you always meet one on a bend or a bridge hole.  We passed this boat a bit later on and their young lady passenger (about 3) took great delight in telling Chris they had come for a pump out.

We were waiting here - a necessary stop along this canal – bridge 20 and a visit to Wedges, the wonderful bakery and deli.  

 Kiera is used to having a biscuit when she comes in from a walk, which happens twice a day at home. As we were in and out most of the day I gave her just half a bonio, keeping the rest for later.  I think she was looking at me saying ‘where is the rest?’

Shortly after Hockley Heath are two drawbridges which have been notoriously hard work to operate.  The first was 20 very stiff turns and the second over 40 even harder turns.  Well I am delighted to report that something must have been done to improve the situation or I have suddenly become a lot fitter, which I doubt.  There are still a lot of turns required, however they are not as hard.

When you get to the locks at Lapworth there are 4 spaced apart and then 8 in a flight.  One of the first four is right by a road, so both dogs were on a ‘down stay’, which I am glad to say they did.

This one is posted for Kiera’s owners as I think it is a good one of both dogs

I reckon this will be a lovely house when it is done

The decking with seating area is good to go

We had not seen any signs of any boats moving in front of us and passing one that had come up we had hoped the last 8 would be in our favour, however as we got to the first of the last 8 we found this boat right in front of us 

I am afraid it was a slow boat to China – invariably we had filled the lock they had just left, gone in and dropped it before they were anywhere near out of the next lock and on one occasion not even in it!  We weren’t in a hurry, so just tucked in behind and waited patiently.

And then a wonderful sight – not one

But two voluntary lock keepers which certainly speeded things up.

We moored up as far away as possible from The Boot as it is further from the main road.  Last year they were still building, so we kept away due to the construction noise

 But now the properties are complete, albeit not sold yet

A quick check of the bilge that should be dry showed it to be very wet, so the mop and bucket were put to work and Chris reckons he got about 20 odd litres out of it.  More importantly he think he found the source of the leak – it appears to come from a very slight mis alignment when Chris put the filter back on the water pump when he de-winterised the boat.  Water is still travelling along from the bow to the stern, but that is to be expected until it is all out.  It is a lot less, so fingers crossed it is sorted.

As the day wore on we were glad we were well away from the pub as there was a wedding reception going on in The Tepee at the pub with very loud music.

Mind you I don’t think much would have disturbed these two.

Sunday 11th June 2017
The Boot Lapworth

We woke to a nasty surprise this morning as poor Kiera had been rather ill in the night, so no breakfast for her this morning!  A few gentle walks for the two of them including a trip with rubbish and to get the paper.

Kiera’s owners were due to come and collect her this afternoon, so we had a table booked for lunch at 3pm at The Boot.  They arrived at 2pm and we spent a pleasant time sitting in the garden in the sun catching up.  Their holiday on a luxury motor yacht along the Dalmatian Coast sounded amazing.  The meal was not the cheapest Sunday lunch we have ever had, but it was worth every penny.  The beef just melted in our mouths and the chocolate dessert (two of them and four spoons!) was just fabulous.  


My'scardcorner said...

Great pics Jennie love the one out of the tunnel with the greenery .Monty will miss his visitor now she's gone enjoy the rest of your trip

Jennie said...

Thanks Myra and yes I think Monty is missing Kiera! Jennie xx