This Month's Totals and Average
69.64 miles 80 locks 42.36 hrs 3.53 lmph

  October 2017

Tuesday 31st October ~ Curdworth to Fazeley (outside marina)

Another lovely quiet night out in the back-of-beyond. Dawn broke with the sun just visible behind an almost unbroken layer of high cloud, occasionally popping through sufficiently to create a shadow. Took it easy setting off, and headed down the Curdworth Flight (11 Locks). Only Lock 9 was against me and a volunteer helped with one lock. Very pleasant working down, not overly cold (particularly when doing physical work). Moored at the bottom at Kingsbury for a leisurely lunch.

After lunch moved on again, heading back towards the marina. Winded in the entrance and reversed 100yds towards the junction so that Kym could work on the flue (work starts tomorrow). Quick trip for food stores then tucked in for the night.

5.40 miles 11 locks 4.17 hrs 3.93 lmph

Monday 30th October ~ Aston to Curdworth (en route to Fazeley)

Brilliant sleep after previous night's shenanigans. Beautiful sunny morning, but cold in comparison to recently (4°C outside). On the move quickly, returning to Aston Junction and turning right down Aston Flight. Good road most of the time, got down the first 8 in 1¼ hours (good even with a crew!). The remaining 3 were a little slower as they are spaced out. Clearing the bottom lock, stopped to make a sandwich lunch which I ate on the move. Glorious in the autumn sun.

Knew it was too good to be true. Things went sour. Boat appeared out of nowhere behind, catching up fast. Decided it was too nice a day to rush, so would take the hit on a bad road at Minworth, and let them past. They then dawdled so ended up waiting for them at Minworth Top. Got to Minworth 2 and the bottom gate wouldn't open fully - I got stuck going out. Eventually got reversed back into the lock and phoned CRT for assistance (about 40 mins they said). Another boat came up behind and we managed to jiggle the gate to get me out, and them through. CRT turned up just we finished, inspected, dredged with a large rake, and pulled up an old fender which was sitting on the ledge of the gate recess. All happy, we got on our way. Continued through to Curdworth and moored at our usual spot above the lock. Took a brief walk into the village before settling in for the night.

7.96 miles 14 locks 5.50 hrs 4.00 lmph

Sunday 29th October ~ Birmingham (Brindley Place) to Aston (en route to Fazeley)

Problems overnight (04:30) - unwelcome bodies shouting and larking outside. Woke me, probably those on the other boat, and possibly also residents in the flats. I went out and asked them forcefully to "move on", which they did without too much pressure. Three minutes later, a security guard came round the corner - they had seen it on the CCTV and come to investigate. Nice to know they do react to problems. Finally got back to sleep, having lost the benefit of the change in 'clocks'.

Awake early so got up. It had been raining and quite windy overnight. The wind had eased somewhat and the rain had cleared. Moved back to the services berth above Farmer's Bridge Locks for the usual items, then started down the flight. A family to whom I had been chatting (the adults had met on a working boat in the 1960s, and the young lady was on holiday from Germany) kindly opened the next four top gates for me (as the locks were full). While I was setting Lock 5 which had been empty, the CRT litter-picking team walked past - they then drew a paddle on each on the remaining locks in the flight for me so I only had to open them as I arrived. Made very good time again, the whole flight in 2½ hours. Once again turned onto the Digbeth Branch and moored for the day. Cloud had cleared to a beautiful sunny afternoon, although a sharp nip in the air.

1.80 miles 13 locks 2.53 hrs 5.85 lmph

Saturday 28th October ~ Birmingham (Brindley Place)

Attended the AGM of the Merchant Navy Association . Caught up with friends from last year, and made some new ones.

Day started cloudy and dull. By the end of the meeting, the cloud had decreased giving some sunshine, but the wind had picked up.

Friday 27th October ~ Aston to Birmingham (Brindley Place)

Woke to a beautiful sunny morning, although much cooler. Moved off promptly back to Aston Junction and turned left for the Farmer's Bridge Flight. As I passed the junction, I noted that the top gate was open and the paddles left up - I think I have a suspect for that! Lock 13 (bottom), and the same was found - resigned myself to a slow climb. At Lock 9, a CRT Volunteer arrived and assisted me up the remainder of the flight - he was going ahead to drop the next lock and open the gate, then going back to close up the lock we had just left, all I had to do was drive the boat. Flew up the flight faster than I ever remember - 13 locks (total) and ½ mile in 1½ hours! (The prime suspect for the open gates was noted moored below Lock 6)

Stopped off at the CRT Office for the replacement anti-vandal key, then headed across to Brindley Place for a mooring, and lunch.

Went for a walk for a little shopping, then to investigate what was left of the entrance to Paradise Wharf  - the old wharf areas are being rebuilt over (for at least a second time). Met up with a family on holiday and had a long chat with them about the lifestyle, then returned to "Paws" for routine chores. The sun had continued throughout the day, a very pleasant day indeed.

1.67 miles 13 locks 2.48 hrs 5.91 lmph

Thursday 26th October ~ Curdworth to Aston (en route to Birmingham)

Up promptly ready for a heavy day, to find a dull start although still quite warm. The boat which had overnighted astern left just as I was getting ready, so knew I would have a bad road. Got as far as Curdworth Tunnel and a boat I had seen yesterday (a Frenchman) on the Curdworth Flight and had passed me late afternoon, attempted to pull out in front. I couldn't stop by that time so ended up passing him. He complained that he had signalled to me he was pulling out! I didn't see any signal, but it still doesn't excuse his attempt, or his attitude. Decided I couldn't be bothered arguing so pulled over and let him past.

Got to Minworth Bottom to find him plus the other boat pulling away from the lock, leaving the top gate open, and the Frenchman forcing his way past the other boat! Closed up and worked through, continuing to Middle Lock. Found the two boats working the lock together (the other boat apologised, although not his fault, for the gate being left open - I informed him that the Frenchman had left several gates and paddles open over the two flights (I had gone back to close Curdworth Top for him yesterday, but thought it had been an oversight)). Worked through after them and continued to Minworth Top where I found the Frenchman taking water and preparing the lock (the other boat had obviously gone on). As soon as he saw me coming, he wrapped up his hose and headed into the lock. By the time I walked up to the lock it was full, but he was inside on his laptop. I had opened his gate and shut his paddles before he emerged and steamed out with no intention of closing the gate. I passed him later in the morning attempting to moor where there is no facility to do so (concrete towpath to water's edge).

Arrived at Salford Junction and turned second-left for Farmer's Bridge. Passed another boat going the other way who said the whole flight should be set for me. Ascended the first three of the Aston Flight (11-9) and moored for lunch at the café. They didn't have their Halloween decorations up and appeared to be in a tizz, with little stock. While lunching, another boat came up, so I was in for a slow run now. Ascended 8, 7 and 6 then found a boat coming down - he left the next three bottom gates open for me so got on faster, the remainder all being set with me. At Aston Junction, turned left onto the Digbeth Branch, winded before the locks and moored opposite the NHS Offices. The building work on-side has now been finished and the new offices in use. When doing the stats for the day, noted an exceptional speed considering the problems encountered. Quiet evening ready for stage two of the hill.

8.07 miles 14 locks 6.30 hrs 3.50 lmph

Wednesday 25th October ~ Bodymoor Heath to Curdworth (en route to Birmingham)

What a difference a day makes! Beautifully sunny morning, barely a cloud in the sky. Woke to find "Paws" leaning over at an angle - investigations showed she was sitting on the bottom with the pound over a foot down. When ready, checked Lock 9 (below), then walked to Lock 8 to find another boat starting to come down. Their flush freed "Paws", and I got into the lock. Ascended, then flushed down a large quantity to refill the pound (without causing problems to the pound above). As I was leaving, the gentleman on the bike from yesterday passed, also going uphill - "Do you want me to open the next lock for you?", he says. I had my own personal lock-wheeler for the rest of the flight, and flew up at an amazing rate. My sincere thanks to the gentleman (a fellow single-hander). Moored just above Top Lock for the day. I noted that I had dropped my anti-vandel key from my belt at some point, so (for the exercise) I walked back down the flight checking where I had been ashore, but didn't find it. I'll get another at the CRT Office at Cambrian Wharf (I have a spare meantime).

Lunch and a quiet afternoon, before the heavy day tomorrow.

1.80 miles 8 locks 1.86 hrs 5.27 lmph

Tuesday 24th October ~ Fazeley to Bodymoor Heath (en route to Birmingham)

Up promptly and got the final prep done for departure. Crossed over to the services berth for gas and loo, then headed out mid-morning, turning south. Fine morning boding well for the day (appearances can be deceiving!). Arrived at Curdworth Bottom Lock (against me) and ascended with the assistance of two young ladies out for a walk with grandparents. Very fine drizzle started, but not really unpleasant. Worked through Curdworth 10 on my own (against me again), the drizzle had ceased again. A cyclist out for exercise (with windlass, as you do!) worked me through Lock 9. Moored in the pound between 9 and 8 for lunch.

Despite my original plan to stop, I though I might still move on after lunch. By the time I had finished, the drizzle was on again with an increased wind and gathering clouds - reverted to Plan A and cleared away for the day.

7.30 miles 2 locks 3.51 hrs 2.65 lmph

19th-23rd October ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Mostly rain, very heavy through Thursday. Wind picked up again on Saturday. Enhanced the "stats" page  with a few new figures, then worked on the maps. Heard from Pat that she was safely back from her holiday on Saturday. Preparations for my Autumn Cruise over the next two weeks (a trip to the centre of Birmingham and back, to attend the AGM of the Merchant Navy Association , of which both Pat and I are members.

Wednesday 18th October ~ Bradley Green to Fazeley

Dull and damp start to day (may have been some rain overnight, but didn't actually hear it). Decided to get back, rather than hang on till lunchtime. Let go and returned back through Polesworth. Said a brief hello to Derek & Ann aboard "Ursinity" (fellow BCF members) as they passed just as I cleared Polesworth. Continued through Alvecote, Amington and Glascote. Descended Glascote (2) Locks - they were pretty busy in both directions so again got an easy run through. Turned left at Fazeley Junction and returned to the marina. Just got moored up as drizzle set in.

Late lunch then cleared up after the trip, followed by a quick run to the shops. Attended the IWA local branch meeting in the evening - very interesting talk on navigating estuaries and tidal rivers.

7.30 miles 2 locks 3.51 hrs 2.65 lmph

Tuesday 17th October ~ Dordon to Bradley Green and return (another short break)

The winds from Ophelia abated in the early hours of the morning, although it remained gusty. Lovely sunny start to the day, but cooler. Pottered around for the morning.

After lunch, let go and moved south to the services at Bradley Green, then reversed back through the bridge'ole and winded. David, with "Kew", arrived to wind as I left - she has been at Grendon Dock for blacking. Returned to last night's mooring for a further night. "Kew" passed me again as I was mooring - now off for engine service at Alvecote. Lovely sunny day throughout, cooler than of late, and the gusty breeze continued.

2.22 miles 0 locks 1.03 hrs 2.16 lmph

Monday 16th October ~ Dordon (another short break)

Rain overnight had cleared by breakfast. Quite warm for the time of year. Sun was out but with some cloud and an increasing wind. Decided to stay put for today. By mid-morning, a thin layer of cloud (almost like high fog) covered the sky but the sun was still peering through as a dull orange ball.

Quiet day on board, routine housework (boatwork?). Cloud cleared shortly after lunch, but the wind increased rapidly. Tuned in to the news at dinnertime and found the reason for the red sun - dust and debris from forest fires in Iberia was being carried north with the winds from ex-hurricane Ophelia.

Sunday 15th October ~ Fazeley to Dordon (another short break)

With a forecast of a beautiful sunny day, disappointed to get up to misty drizzle. Communion at New Life Methodist at Aldergate (and chatted on over coffee until I got thrown out!). Back to "Paws" for lunch, by which time the drizzle had cleared into the promised sunny day. Decided to go back out again.

Got away mid-afternoon, and turned right onto the Coventry Canal, out through Glascote. Was very lucky at the locks, with several coming down so didn't have as much work as expected. Continued out through Amington, Alvecote and Polesworth in the warm late afternoon. Moored just north of Bridge 50 as the sun was going behind a hill. Checked email to find one from daughter-in-law with a video of Aria'a first few steps - brilliant to see.

8.00 miles 2 locks 3.36 hrs 2.38 lmph

Saturday 14th October ~ Streethay to Fazeley

Sunny morning with occasional bands of cloud passing over. Warm for mid-October. Took my time getting on the move but eventually away by mid-morning, heading back for base. Noted that there were still a number of butterflies (mainly Red Admiral) and dragonflies still around. Just approaching Hopwas Wood and saw "Serena" coming the other way. Unfortunately, another boat had just pulled over to let them pass, and I had just let them through a bridge'ole so it was a little difficult to stop for a catchup, but at least we 'crossed paths'. Moored at the school visitor moorings for lunch.

After lunch, continued back towards Fazeley, with the wind stengthening a little. Having turned towards Birmingham, David & Mary of "Kew" hailed me from their garden, so paused at the house for a chat. Eventually moored up again and, after a quick trip to the shops for essentials, got tucked in for the night. Text from Pat to say that she had arrived at our timeshare in Aberfeldy for the week.

8.00 miles 0 locks 3.36 hrs 2.38 lmph

Friday 13th October ~ Streethay to Fradley and return (short break)

Not as nice a day today. Low cloud scudding across the sky, with a layer of high above it. On the move fairly promptly - the wind not causing too much difficulty. Continued northwestwards for Fradley. Sun occasionally peeping through. Highlight of the morning was spotting a kingfisher on the stretch north of Bridge 90. Moored just short of the junction and went for a walk. Called in at the "CRT Welcome Centre" and had a chat with the volunteer manning it. Apparently, some of the staff and services from the (now closed) Fazeley office are working here, with the "Welcome Station" acting as reception. Continued my walk round and through the wildlife area, and had a chat with the volunteer lock-keeper - trade very slow today - before returning to "Paws" for lunch.

After lunch, with more cloud and a few slight spots of rain (never came to anything though), let go again and passed through the swingbridge to the junction where we winded "Paws" and returned back through the swingbridge. Continued back south again as far as Bearshay, but felt the ground was a little too soft to take stakes with the speeds boats have been going past, so continued back to Streethay. Moored up again late afternoon.

6.68 miles 0 locks 2.88 hrs 2.32 lmph

Thursday 12th October ~ Fazeley to Streethay (short break)

Lovely sunny morning, if cold. Wind had died down overnight. Didn't dawdle over breakfast so was on the move by 09:00. Headed out from the marina and towards the junction and northwest. Took a very short stop as I passed the "Chimney Man" to collect the cover, then continued out of town on the well-trodden path (well-boated length?) towards Fradley. Still a surprising amount of traffic around. Sun stayed out all morning, although the wind started to pick up again around Huddlesford Junction. Reached King's Orchard marina just after midday so decided that was far enough and moored up. Quiet afternoon with the horses in the neighbouring field for company.

7.94 miles 0 locks 3.25 hrs 2.44 lmph

8th-11th October ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Weather continues in a similar vein - occasional sunny days, but mostly with a brisk wind. Have managed a few walks out in the sunny periods, but the rain and wind have not been conducive to doing any work outside or where the boat requires to be left opened up. Kym from the Little Chimney Company  attended as arranged and we have agreed that it would be safest to replace the whole flue system (it looks like our builder has failed to install properly). Have done quite a bit of IT work (on the interactive map page of this site, and on our e-book library manager) and 'paperwork' (particularly cross-checking the churches directory for BCF). The vented cover from Little Chimney Co was ready so decided that if weather OK in morning, I would go out for a couple of days, and collect whilst out.

1st-7th October ~ Fazeley Mill Marina

Dull and windy to begin the month, with occasional showers. Attempting to do more exercise, so trying to get out for a walk more often (weather permitting). Discussed flues and chimneys with the couple from the Little Chimney Company , and arranged for Kym to inspect with view to a purchase. Saturday (7th) was Ride to the Wall  (the annual bikers' ride of remembrance for the fallen) so a lot of motorcycle activity over the weekend.

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