|This Month's Totals and Average|
|91.18 miles||107 locks||53.04 hrs||3.74 lmph|
Very heavy rain and strong winds overnight into Thursday. Rain cleared by breakfast but it remained windy. Friday was sunny throughout although the air was cooler than of late.
Routine chores - 'housekeeping' on cleaning throughout before going home, 'IT' on updates, backups, synching drives, and fixing niggles. Pat packing ready for her 'winter holiday' at the house.
Up promptly again. Better morning, with higher cloud and the sun poking through. Fhi and Nick finished packing and got away quickly, headed for Dudley (they will then head home once they are finished). Great having them aboard again (think Fhi can lose her " P " plate, and Nick can progress from " L " to " P ").
Pat decided she's heading back to the house on Sunday. We spent the day reversing beds to 'normal' mode, and started preparations for me 'going solo' again. Shopping run, cleaning floors etc. Quiet evening with the tele.
A prompt start to the day as Fhi and Nick had decided to visit Bletchley Park for the museums. We stayed aboard and did very little! Dinner aboard (they brought in a carry-out). Dull most of the day, but remained fair.
Plan for tomorrow is that they should visit the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley. During the evening, they decided that it would be silly for them to fight their way round Birmingham tomorrow, then back again at night, just to fight their way in again on Thursday to get home - more sensible to just go straight home afterwards. Did most of their packing ready for departure.
More rain overnight, but it had cleared to a drizzle by breakfast. Wind had dropped. Moved on again for the last leg, with Nick at the tiller. Steady run with more traffic today. As the morning progressed, the rain increased again making it colder and less pleasant. Arrived back at the marina at lunchtime and went straight to our berth.
Rain became heavy, then cleared during the afternoon. Fhi and Nick went shopping while we pottered around routine chores. Dinner aboard.
|7.98 miles||0 locks||3.68 hrs||2.17 lmph|
After very heavy rain overnight, there was more wind this morning, although the rain had cleared. Let go as soon as breakfast was finished and headed through the town (just as well we had taken the first available mooring yesterday as there were no more spaces). Dropped through Alrewas Lock and continued along the river section, Nick still steering. Once off the river at Wychnor Lock, winded and returned southwestwards. Fhi took over at the tiller again at Wychnor, and we returned up to the visitor moorings at the east end of Alrewas (there had been a clear-out of boats). Fhi and Nick went for a walk round the town.
When they returned, we set off again up the four locks to Fradley where we stopped for lunch, then continued up the last lock to the Junction, turning left for base. Wind had increased quite a bit and the turn was not easy. By late afternoon, we had reached King's Orchard Marina and we stopped just before the entrance for the night. Spent the evening playing four-handed e-games.
|8.40 miles||9 locks||5.34 hrs||3.26 lmph|
Prompt start to another nice day. Said our goodbyes to Kenney, Louise, Niall and Ashley, and continued towards Fradley, with Fhi steering. Turned right at Fradley Junction and dropped through Junction Lock before mooring for lunch. Junction was very busy, with boats going in all directions.
After lunch, took advantage of the services before continuing down through the four locks towards Alrewas, this time with Nick at the tiller. Once through Bagnall Lock at the west end of Alrewas, we took the first available mooring. Carry out dinner from Delhi Divan .
|9.73 miles||5 locks||5.72 hrs||2.57 lmph|
Swapped the beds etc round ready for our guests. Kenney and Louise were hiring a boat with friends for a week's holiday to celebrate his 30th birthday, and had arranged for us to me them at Hopwas for a meal tonight. Fhi and Nick were to join us for a few days for a short break, but Kenney and Louise did not know this. We set up a surprise for him. Fhi and Nick arrived just after lunchtime and we promptly set off bound for Hopwas. Kenney's face was a picture when he saw the other two sitting out front of our boat! Good weather all day. Great meal at The Tame Otter , with great company.
|4.13 miles||0 locks||1.44 hrs||2.87 lmph|
Bright start to the day, Wednesday, but it clouded over and turned to rain by dinnertime. General chores including shopping and ironing, and including a trip to chandlers for necessary items (didn't have them!). Bumped into James & Hazel (from "Gabriel") out collecting mail from our marina office. Great to meet up with them again (they're singing at the club in Hopwas tomorrow evening).
Rain overnight into Thursday morning had cleared by breakfast, providing another sunny day. 'Catering' set to doing baking, whilst 'maintenance' did a few odd jobs, including a car-run to Whilton Marina for parts. To my surprise I met up with John & Jan from "Jubilee"! Quick catch-up as they were in a hurry to move on towards their home-mooring.
A drier and fresher morning today. Leisurely start, finally getting on the move around 09:30. Just missed getting a full lock as a boat came through the bridge 'ole as we were letting go. The CRT Volunteers were out today so got assistance at Locks 2 to 5. Continued down 6 to 8. Had a very brief chat with David & Angela aboard "Norfolk Belle" as we passed at Lock 6. Moored up for lunch at the "Dog & Doublet".
After lunch, continued down the three remaining locks to Kingsbury, and on to base at Fazeley. Marina filling up again as summer cruisers return and new moorers join us at the end of their seasons.
|5.38 miles||11 locks||3.89 hrs||4.22 lmph|
Early alarm to get on the go. Woke to rain/drizzle. On the move by 07:40 and headed across to the top of the Farmer's Bridge Flight. Made excellent time downhill, doing eight locks in the first hour alone. With all the locks with us (for a change), we continued downwards, still making great time. Continued on to the Aston flight. Again most of the locks were in our favour, the only ones not were the ones with leaks. Met one boat coming up, so they should get a good road from there on. Stopped at Avenue Bridge (below Lock 8) to see if giving the supplier a part number would help them find it! (see my comments on 7th) They found it in the catalogue but didn't have any in stock. Nor did their head warehouse! Hopefully I'll get it somewhere else.
Resumed our downward run with the last three, clearing Salford Junction before 12:00. Lunch on the move as we continued for Minworth. Drizzle eased slightly, and the sun trying to get through. Held above Minworth Top Lock by contractors working on a leak from the lock into the basement of the adjoining cottage. They are injecting sealant into the lock wall. Only about half an hour held, so no real delay - better slight delays than a complete closure. Once permitted to transit, descended the three Minworth Locks and moored mid-afternoon above Curdworth Top - an excellent day's run.
|9.32 miles||27 locks||6.56 hrs||5.54 lmph|
A much cooler night gave better sleeping conditions. Long lie, and woke well refreshed. Contacted daughter and wished her happy birthday. Contacted by son to update on their first day out on their hireboat. All doing well.
Walked to the Bullring to see if a shop had got more supplies in, but still none available (wondering if they have now stopped making it). Generally pottered for the afternoon - heavy day tomorrow. Teddies had fun waving to 'small people' passing the side door.
Had a slow start to the day, killing time till we could go up to the festival. Quite cloudy, and cool in comparison to recently. Call came through mid-morning that Mary had arrived so walked up to the festival site. Had a word at the CRT stand about the moorings situation. Also chatted at the Grace Community Church stand. Called at Mary's stand and collected our painted bucket and stool before returning to "Paws" for lunch.
After lunch, with the sun coming out, we decided to head for base at a more leisurely pace than originally expected. Let go and left the Museum moorings, turning right onto the Old Main Line. Instead of turning left down the Brades Hall locks, we continued ahead along another of the four connections between the old and new lines. The route of the Old Main Line continues east to Oldbury, then bears more northwards to cross the New Main Line south of Spon Lane, before bearing eastwards again to parallel the New Line to Smethwick. Just above Smethwick Locks is the Engine Arm, created to provide coal to the pumping engine. All four routes require a change of level of three locks (Factory at the west end by Tipton, Brades Hall on the Gower Branch in the middle, and Spon Lane or Smethwick at the east end). Descended Smethwick three and continued towards Old Turn. As we were going to try Brindley Place for a mooring first, we turned right onto the Oozells Street Loop, but found no spaces. Came off the Loop again at Old Turn and reversed up to a vacant mooring opposite the Barclaycard Arena at Symphony Court.
|8.79 miles||3 locks||3.36 hrs||3.51 lmph|
Having had a good night in the basin, and used the services after breakfast, we decided that we would just stay put until Saturday and see Mary about our purchases from Pelsall before leaving, rather than attempt to find a spot alongside nearer the centre of the festival. Had a lazy day. After the breakfast rain, the day improved quickly. Had a chat with the "maintenance man" from "Governor" (a 1941 BCN tug based at Dudley), and with the Danish couple aboard a hire-boat overnighting.
Using our "UnChained" passes, went into the museum for free and had lunch, before returning for a quiet afternoon.
Fairly thick fog greeted us this morning, but the sun finally burned through it by mid-morning. Monitored the basin at the museum, but there was insufficient change to permit us a berth so stayed put. Generally lazy day - short trip for stores in morning, some household chores in afternoon, and a walk round the area to check data for the planner maps we use (users supply corrections, users get free updates). Turned into a very hot and humid day.
Just before dinner, one of the "working boats" bound for the festival left the basin, so a quick reverse into the basin for us. Shortly after that, another boat, "Foreward", arrived so we offered them a breast-up which they gratefully took. Had a long chat with "Dusty" Miller and his team.
Rain cleared before bedtime, and stayed off overnight. Lovely sunny morning. Sat around all morning waiting for the Harbour Master to return with the mooring plan. Did a few odd jobs while waiting.
Lunchtime came and went, and still no sign of the plan. Roving Traders were getting upset that they could not get into their places. Eventually the Harbour Master arrived to say that there was no reference to our boat, offered us three choices (north end, south end, or outside), but would we please move. Happily moved (now that we had a destination) and tried the north end. Couldn't get alongside so continued, and winded at Factory Junction. Returned back through the moorings to try the south end. Decided that since we would need to move again for services, we would just spend the next two days at the museum moorings and try the south end again on Friday. Got to the museum to find no moorings available, so winded and moored just outside at Dudley Road Bridge (we'll reverse in to the museum if a mooring is vacated). Whilst the staff on site did their best, very poor communications from their managers. We'll see what happens over the next few days, but our feeling at the moment is we will not return in future years.
|1.14 miles||0 locks||0.93 hrs||1.22 lmph|
Lovely sunny morning, and warm already as we rose. Moved off as soon as we were ready, and headed north again through the Netherton Tunnel. On reaching Dudley Port Junction, we turned right towards Birmingham, but only went as far as Albion Junction. Turned right again onto the Gower (or Brades Hall) Branch. This lifts the canal up three locks (one single plus a staircase pair) to meet the Old (Wolverhampton) Line. Turning right again, we returned west, crossing over the Netherton Tunnel Branch and arriving at Tipton Junction. The canal here is very cluttered with debris and rubbish; not particularly nice environment. As one approaches Tipton, however, it does clear somewhat. Turned left at Tipton Junction into the Black Country Museum moorings for services and the hope of a mooring for a couple of days. Unfortunately, all full so, having done the necessaries, we returned out to the main line and moored opposite the hospital at Tipton. The Harbour Master for the festival at the weekend had not yet been given a moorings list so we will have to move at some point. Heavy showers, with sunny periods, set in after lunch, culminating in a severe thunderstorm just before dinner.
|6.55 miles||3 locks||3.23 hrs||2.95 lmph|
Dull start to the day. Decided we would stay at Bumble Hole for another night before moving round to Dudley/Tipton. We did, however, move off the arm and moored along the grass section that had been the showground. After lunch, 'catering' went shopping (again) while 'navigation' reworked the trip plan for our son who is hiring in two weeks. Had a farewell visit from John & Judith - tentative plans to meet up for Leeds & Liverpool next year. Wherever it is, look forward to seeing them again. Cloud built late afternoon, with a few spots of rain.
|0.22 miles||0 locks||0.20 hrs||1.08 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight Friday eased during Saturday morning, but showers continued until late afternoon. Had a walk round the whole festival site , then went for lunch at St Peter's Church with Gwyneth. Spoke with Peter from the "Solar Kingfisher" and he joined us aboard "Paws" to have a look at our solar panel and charging problem. After three hours, he thinks we may have a solution. All repaired back to the 'showground' for dinner, but had to move a table and chairs outside the marquee as the "music" was already too loud. Lovely evening sitting in the twilight chatting. Returned to our own boats when it started to get a little chillier.
After a cooler night, Sunday dawned sunny. Went up to the main marquee for the community service lead by Michael of St Peter's Church. Lovely service, and a great sing. Back to "Paws" for lunch, then spent most of the afternoon manning the BCF stand aboard "Kew". Quiet evening after the festival closed.
Very windy morning - made reversing out of Oozells Street Loop a bit difficult. Reversed back to the top of Farmer's Bridge Locks for services, then headed along the "Island Line". Slightly more sheltered, and the sun came out. Continued along the main line to Dudley Port Junction, where we turned left to pass through the Netherton Tunnel. Hadn't seen any other boats on the move until we got to the tunnel. On the south side of the tunnel, we found a very busy scene with boats manoeuvring in every direction. Once an ex-BWB working pair had re-arranged themselves, we slid past them and turned left into the arm towards Hawne Basin. Found that our berth was exactly the same as last year, and that the boat already there was the same one as last year, "Blackberry Way". Moored outside him. We were told by Peter & Heather that "Serena" was also on site. We met up with John & Judith at the registration van.
Had a short walk round the site before returning to "Paws". I started on getting the BCF banner mounted, but the rain came on so that was abandoned. John & Judith arrived so we caught up with news over a cup of tea. Rain didn't last long, so had dinner in the marquee with John, Judith, Peter & Heather, leaving when the "music" got too loud. Rain returned just after we got back.
|9.42 miles||0 locks||3.96 hrs||2.38 lmph|
Long lie. Woke to cloudy skies, and showers of rain (although they cleared quickly). Decided to have a relaxing walk through the town - a little retail therapy. Wandered through the Chinese Quarter , purchasing a few more items than intended in one of the supermarkets, then around the Bull Ring markets. Sun came out mid-morning, although the wind increased. Spent the afternoon doing some research-work on our genealogy project, after receiving an email from a new-found relative.
Heavy day in prospect so up and on the move quickly. Cloudy start, but warm. Continued westward towards Minworth. Ascended the Minworth Flight (3 locks) - the top gate jammed on us but, with a bit of fishing with the long shaft behind the gate, we managed to remove a large plastic barrier, and continued on our way. Started lunch on the move (eventually finished it part way up the Farmer's Bridge Flight!). Turned second-left at Salford Junction, continuing on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal towards central Birmingham. Attacked the Aston Flight (11 Locks). Just at Lock 8, I noticed a shop that was supposed to stock a tool I needed, so we stopped to investigate. Unfortunately, the salesperson could not find it in their catalogue, and said that they probably wouldn't have it in stock even if we could have found it - not a lot of help. Moved on up the rest of the flight, continuing on to the Farmer's Bridge Flight (13 locks). The sun had come out, and it was getting very hot. We were getting tired by this stage, so the occasional chats with gongoozlers was much appreciated as a rest. Some even worked gates for us. Finally reached the top and topped up the water. Noted "Jubilee" moored close-by, but nobody aboard. Moved round to Oozells Street Loop where we hoped to find a mooring, but all full. Took one at Symphony Court and were in the middle of getting the lines out when one of the boats in Oozells Street moved out. We rapidly reversed up and took its place.
|9.39 miles||27 locks||7.52 hrs||4.84 lmph|
Up promptly, making ready for departure. Lovely sunny morning. Moved over to the services berth for fuel, gas and loo, then got under way for the last section of this year's main cruise. Headed back towards Kingsbury and started the climb up the Curdworth Flight. Got through the third lock just at lunchtime so could not resist the lure of a snack and pint at the "Dog and Doublet".
Duly refreshed (or, more correctly, lethargic) after the excellent pint and brilliant food, we continued up the remainder of the flight, helped at 6, 5 and 4 by CRT volunteers. Cloud had built during the afternoon. Cleared the top lock and moored at our usual spot. Very warm despite the cloud cover, even what little breeze existed was warm.
|5.34 miles||11 locks||3.61 hrs||4.54 lmph|
- The annual get-together for members of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship . This has traditionally been at "The Taft", west of Rugeley on the Trent & Mersey, but the hosts felt the time had come to stand down, and it moved to St Paul's Church at Fazeley this year.
With our cars now working, shopping was the order of the day on Friday, and making ready for guests. John & Jane were leaving their boat in Oxford and travelling north by bus. They joined us aboard "Paws" just before dinner and settled in. After dinner, we all headed round to St Paul's Church for a social gathering of members, renewing aquaintances and making new friends (including Mark & Catherine who appear as mad on teddies as we are!).
Saturday morning was spent with the group looking at the word "Fellowship" and all it can mean - a very interesting discussion led by Martin. The afternoon had us doing quizzes and playing games, leading into a barbeque then home-made entertainment. Amazing the wealth of talent we have in our membership.
Up early Sunday morning for a members' communion service in the hall, led by John, before joining the congregation of St Paul's for their regular monthly "Café Church". This turned out to be a relaxed meeting round tables (as in a coffee shop) with catering available throughout. Praise was divided into Starter (prayer of gathering and a song of praise), Main Course (a light-hearted look at the story of Jesus calming the storm), and Dessert (prayers and blessing). There was also time allocated for private prayer, focus on one aspect of charity work, and craftwork for the young at heart. A refreshing new take on a Sunday Service. A stand was also provided to enable the congregation to "Meet the BCF". After the service, we headed to "The Three Tuns" for Sunday Roast, after which we started to go our own ways. John & Jane headed for the bus back to Oxford - we returned "Paws" to 2-person mode.
Monday was a very quiet day. Did a bit of shopping, had a look at how we were going to get a banner on the roof, generally pottered about getting ready to leave again in the morning.
Sunny morning, with enough cloud to keep it cool enough for pleasant locking. Both awake slightly early, so up, breakfast, and on our way. Started the descent down the Curdworth Flight (11 locks). The CRT volunteers were out (Tuesdays and Thursdays only at this time of year), so they assisted us down 2 to 6. Continued down the remainder. All against us, but still made good time. Made the final run to Fazeley Marina. One of the Drayton Boats was on the services berth (we'll get fuel over the weekend), so went back onto our own berth for lunch.
Went to check the cars ready for collecting visitors and being available for fellow BCF members to collect shopping over the weekend, only to find Pat's battery flat (again!) - mine was all right. A call to Britannia Rescue got her going again. I spent the afternoon baking ready for the weekend. Clouds cleared during the afternoon.
|5.39 miles||11 locks||3.61 hrs||4.54 lmph|