Friday, 19 August 2022

Tardebigge and all that.

 So this morning being of the damp and grey kind David pulled the pins and slipped quietly onto the water point hoping not to disturb the sleeping crew.  We wanted to keep them as happy as possible for as long as possible.

For all those who don't know, Birmingham is up on a plateau so to get there and back involves a lot of locks, and in our case this am we had 36 on our list, the extra six would take us to where David had already popped their car.

So its about a two hour run to the flight, some of it pretty dull but some of it glorious green rolling hills.  As we jollied along the crew surfaced, we stoked Mitchell up with food, dug out the windlesses (or cranks as Mitch calls them). 
Then Ready Steady where's the rubbish point?  It was blowy as we rounded the bend to bring us to the start of the flight and the service point.  Luckily Mitch has very long jumpy legs and and did the honours.

The top lock was a wee bit along from the rest of the flight and my goodness they have a problem with this weed.  It had completely enveloped several boats.

A few locks in and we were finding out our routine

So I had gone ahead to prep, leaving Verity, Mitch and David to do that lock.

So a short way down was the reservoir that feed this flight of locks.  It is looking a bit low but maybe only a bit.  I had expected it to be lower after the lack of rainfall we've had.

Really stunningly beautiful countryside that's visible a few locks down

From here I could see a pair of grandparents with a toddler they were walking along the towpath with, another lady had a small dog on a lead.  Also but out of shot were an elderly couple painting the wall of this cottage.  As I got closer the ringing of bike bells was heard and two mountain bikers came haring down expecting and luckily getting the pathway cleared in front of them.  
I was outraged at their speed, their lack of consideration and most of all their entitlement that this path was theirs.
Now Reader you know I am most compliant, a person, most  amenable and non confrontational, this has only been tested a few times but today was one of those times.
A third biker came down and I stepped in front of him causing him to halt but he wasn't doing anything like the speed of the previous two.  I asked if he was friends with the previous two and he said yes, well I let him have it with both barrels about what had happened, the child, the elderly, the dog and people who are deaf and won't hear a bell.
He agreed with me and said they weren't friends but he worked a the same place as them and he would have a word.
I calmed down a bit.
But I truly think CART have made an error allowing bikes/including bikes/re-surfacing for bikes.  Cyclist behaviour sometimes can be outrageous as it was today, I expect most people who walk on the tow paths can tell of a bad encounter.

Why are people on foot expected to give way to a vehicle?  A bike is certainly a vehicle, people are not.

I did manage to calm down properly eventually.
Yep I'm furiously again writing it.

Scene of the crime

The sun came out and the temperature shot up.  I was finding the going pretty tough to be honest Reader.  We were following a boat down unfortunately a couple with the lady helming and the man using a bike to open every gate he came to, as a lone boat had come up in front of them.  I didn't really mind of course as we had had luck at flights in the past. and they had a really good system together.  So I was waiting for them to clear then re-filling the lock.  So the top paddles were tough, really really heavy liberally coated with oil but just so heavy.  Crossing the beams just got me liberally covered in oil too on my new shorts.  A volunteer walked past me and sympathised with how heavy they are saying well we are always putting grease on them to help.
This I knew I was covered in the stuff but its not the problem.

We all paused on WaL for long drinks, a juicy peach and a loo break.  David felt the heat the most and before the bottom lock was ordered inside by Verity.  He meekly obeyed her, showered in cold water, ate a sandwich and returned for the last six.

Verity also went in after the bottom lock to start dinner, leaving Mitch and I to complete the 36.

We passed the boat in front moored up and having well deserved beers, told them we were making FULL use of the guests. 

Photos are slightly out of sink.  

This is the spare bedroom, these are Mitchell's feet, yes he had swung himself out of the window onto the roof in one easy manoeuvre.  Also jumped the locks several times not on film as I couldn't look. 

We moored up at Stoke Works, a blip along from Stoke Prior where a big Hire Boat centre.  
It had been a hard day followed by early nights all around.  Verity and Mitch left early-ish the next day as they are moving house soon and have a lot to do.  Moving to New Zealand that is.

Supper was chicken in a spicy sauce with broccoli and rice. 

Oooh I forgot to say, started the flight at 12:30 and got to the bottom of the flight at 4:30.  We would have been a bit faster if not for the boat in front that held us up a wee bit.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The pride, the joy and the blisters

The next morning, the onboard 'youngsters' were up early and quickly went off to a 9am start of the NZ Women's hockey and I am sad to report I don't remember the result.  But we were meeting them later at Edgbaston to watch England Women's cricket against South Africa.
I had developed an aching knee, a sore foot and a blister after all the recent locks and a pretty long walk into town and back yesterday.  I was all for a taxi, but we had to walk a pretty long way to get to a road as certain access footbridges were closed.  Many roads too. So we decided to bike.  It was great idea, got the directions from Googly woogly and off we went.  

Get to the first road and its all barriered off.
David asked the marshal "Can we go down there?" 
No its closed
"But can we just go down there?"  He's plucky isn't he?  Now a police van had pulled out and a group of armed officers were getting out...  "Just on the pavement?"

By now I was giggling, come on fatty lets find another way which was nicely down hill.  I have to say Reader Edgbaston is posh, very posh, huge big houses and even bigger cars all along.  We came up against another road block and this time the marshal said Cricket oh yes, down here, turn left, keep going on the cycle lane in the centre and its signposted.

Marvellous, straight there.  They had a cycle lane on the centre reservation of a dual carriage way. Bingo.

Big queue, but quickly past security,  nice loos.


It's tough capturing an action shot, I had no idea.

Verity and Mitch had picked up snacks on the way here so we had a jolly picnic and enjoyed a little sunshine too.  England won a very exciting match.

David and I cycled back, this time rather slower as it was uphill, but Reader after me not riding for months and months I was slow but didn't get off and push. 
As I passed the helpful marshal who had directed us I thanked her saying she was the only reason we arrived there.

The other two had a much longer journey back due to the road blocks, they called in at friends on the way and we didn't see them till much later.  

This mooring had been ideal for us (Marilyn) for the tickets we had for cricket and hockey both located in the south eastern part but the athletics were in the north western part at Perry Bar.  Its been a lovely experience, everyone jolly on the streets, the visitors from overseas and the volunteers who made it all so successful. 
We all have definitely enjoyed it, maybe as much as Verity, my mother and myself did at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 when Verity was 14.  
How time flies.

Supper was a very delicious invention of Verity's, fish curry.  She made it from ingredients in my larder that "needed using up!"

Tardebigge flight tomorrow....

Monday, 15 August 2022

All fun at the Commonwealth Games

This morning we pulled forward onto the water point here to fill up.  Reader you know what it's like when you have visitors aboard, they flush the loo and run the taps incessantly.  But that isn't to say we'd be lost without them.
We set off early but reversing to the winding hole or turny round place as I call them. 
But we were foiled by a boat moored on the winding hole.  
Now David quite likes a gamble and fancied his chances despite a fallen tree across one side of the winding hole, as he progressed it was evident that the tree would win by taking out the cratch glass window.

He straightened up WaL again and called to the boat.  Reader it was before 8am and a Sunday morning...  Nothing happened.
I Yoo-hooed a bit louder and a face of a nice young man appeared, a bit flushed you might say.  
He saw the situation and offered immediately to pull the boat back.  Another boat's crew appeared and also lent a hand then a nice young lady's face appeared in a skimpy top, also had a flushed complexion.  I think it was evident they hadn't been reading the papers.  But oh to be young again.

We had decided that having seen that the moorings in the centre of Birmingham were fairly vacant we'd take another gamble and try our luck rather than travel in by taxi or bus.

Its about a two hour run back into town, no locks but a zonking great tunnel.  I sent Mitch out to keep his father-in-law awake leaving Verity and I to have a nice coffee and book reading break.

Now Boaters might recognise this house, it's an old Toll House situated at the junction towards Lapworth Junction.  In the last years it caught fire.  I had begged David to buy the shell for me and we'd rebuild it but he wasn't keen.  What a joy to see that it's been saved. 

Maybe after restoration he'll buy it for me....?

So the clouds melted away and we arrived at one end of the University moorings.  This suited us down to the ground as we had tickets that evening to see hockey.  The moorings here are sunny with a grassed area that firstly Verity put my yoga mat down to do a work out on, but we put the chairs out for a few hours to enjoy some warm sun.

Later we walked into town to have a look about, neither Verity nor Mitch had been here before so they got a flavour.   

Daddy and his girl, the famous Gas Street Basin is behind them, under the bridge and to the left.

We had drinks in 'The Canal House' pub and this was on the wall but not labelled... perhaps it's the city centre.

The city centre was full of visitors with a very friendly vibe all around.  This was the main merchandise shop which Mitch and I braved to buy a souvenir for my Athletics loving mum who was watching all at home.

The Games mascot

Birmingham library.

And this metalwork Bull sculpture representing the Bull Ring in which bulls were brought and sold in previous centuries.

Very heavily armed police which make me a bit twitchy...

So Bully was operating just now, eyes flashing, nostrils smoking and he turned.

A pair of Peaky Blinders to boot.

Now below is a bit of a quiz.  In the centre were badges depicting flags of the Commonwealth, (Remember Reader it was The Commonwealth Games)  I had absolutely no idea except no I can tell the difference between the Australian and New Zealand flags.... 
So if you think you are a bright spark have a go.  Answers tomorrow and no Googling.
I might just add my son-in-law knew them all but not Northern Island's, I only knew that as two athletes in the Para Triathlon had won a medal I saw their flag raised.  I don't I knew prior to that they had a flag.

We had very early supper or a very late lunch at a Thai restaurant with very keen air conditioning but the food was really delicious.  
We had time to walk the twenty minutes or so back to the boat, collect warm jackets and head out to the University Hockey pitches to watch some enthralling hockey.

Oh dear.  Tears before bed.

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Arriving at Birmingham and good eggs.

The next morning after all the crew had had morning tea served by the captain we set off for the last few locks on this canal the Fazeley to Birmingham until the junction under the motorway.
I was glad to hear the locum crew had slept well.   

Nice glimpse of two bridges.  Hard to believe we are pretty near to the centre of a city. 

I was quite sad to see this plaque, given that the award was 21 years ago, the place is so changed, so run down now.  British Waterways is no more and so many of the lock cottages have been sold off if not all.

Looking unloved from the outside.

The Boat Sharers or now I should say Boat of their Own-ers.  Their last cruise with us.

Still many traces of the canal's pre motorway life if you look carefully under the graffiti.

Here's the turn.

We left the car this side of Tamworth.

Wild flowers growing on the bankside of the river Tame.

I was the advance party going ahead prepping the next two or three locks.  Plenty of rubbish discarded, I grabbed a couple of bin liners and we collected most of it including a sun hat out of the canal.

He didn't mind me getting close but had enough of two crows dive bombing him and departed.

The old canal has not altered its route but has been built over in the very real sense of the word.  Its completely fascinating as the new and old buildings are mixed today.  But I wouldn't want to see anymore original canal buildings "Removed".

WaL just coming into view.  Those artists must carry ladders.

I hope this little shed  (I suppose was a keepers bothy, it has a fireplace inside) remains standing.

I'd guesstimate that the bridge and canal are the oldest, 1950's for the building on the right, 1970's for the building to the left of the bridge  and the 1990's for the rest.

Last visit this was all being developed, I like what they've done here in keeping the old warehouse.

Almost at Farmers Bridge and to enlighten the hordes of Commonwealth Games Visitors here there were some hoardings up with photos of the canals in their day, I tried to get some shots but the reflections were bad.

Presumably this Butty was being hauled out of the lock by her unseen husband

As I prepped this lock below, the penultimate lock two smartly dressed chaps were watching and looking very interested.  Both from the Gold Coast (Australia), first thing I asked was are you going to vote for independence?  
Answer;  I love The Queen! Not so sure about Charlie though.
Second question; Have you come over to see the Games? 
Well we are on a business trip, lots of businesses from the Gold Coast are having a conference here...
Third question So are there no conference centres in Brisbane then?
So we are on what we would call a Junket.  We all laughed and I told them that we would call it "A Jolly".

They were very interested in the ancientness of the canals, not seen locks before although Reader Brisbane claims to have more canals than either Venice or Birmingham, however no locks so I said that didn't count.

CART out recruiting here.

No time to visit here today.

Love this old and new together, but I doubt its completely authentic.

Gongoozellor (how do you spell it?) photographing us.

So we didn't get any sense from CART about the moorings apart from being told that all the moorings were Pre-Booked and it had been on their website (Who knew?).  I had been on the website to try and book but no joy and the website failed to accept any details.

But on entering the city centre we could see large spaces of mooring free.  But by now we have made different plans to receive our next visitors by mooring up at Hopwood which is out the other side of Birmingham and near to Alvechurch.

We arrived a couple of hours later at the pub, said goodbye to the good eggs who had worked so admirably for us and waited for the next pair to arrive which were Verity and Mitch who have driven up from London.

Later that evening David and I drove back to Fazeley to collect my car, sadly my new friend Carol was out so I just left a bottle of wine by her milk basket as a thank you.

Supper later again was feta, spinach and pine nut quiche with new potatoes and salad.