Tuesday 11 June 2019

Secrets and Lies

We got an early getaway in the morning about 8am to do the rest of the locks up to the junction with the Grand Union canal at Kingswood Junction.

But I almost forgot, I took this shot of Queen of the Meadow from the boat last evening, the sun had come through the clouds late on and turned the bank of them golden.

Probably the last photo of these yellow flag irises this year as they are going over already.  Fabulous aren't they?

The stamp of the brick maker.  I should have wetted it to read it better.  It was West Bromwich though.

So we were making good progress and sharing the driving and heaving, these locks are not a piece of cake.  Oddly though we had chatted to a cruiser owner, he had had his boat 20 years and said that this was one of their first trips in the boat all those years ago.  He told me that back then the  locks were shocking and in comparison they are wonderful now....!  I was shocked.

When we arrived at this cute barrel roofed cottage, (There are only a handful left) there was a character waiting.  This Muscovy Duck, had a well rehearsed act, he/she waits a boat and stands right next to where the helm is positioned and although does not quack (Muscovy ducks are silent) she stared very pointedly until food is produced.  Now we all know don't we that bread is bad for ducks so never feed it to them, we didn't have anything that wasn't poisonous to her so kindly we didn't give it anything but she turned her back in a mini strop and walked along eating grass, as she should.

Presumably home of the duck, not sure about the colour of the paintwork.


But nicely unspoiled cottage

The old and the M42 new.

The last cottage I saw today, this one with a zonking great extension whacked on.

My first Foxgloves this year so I'm sharing them with you.

Now Reader, there was a bit of a bun fight here and I want your opinion if I was bad or if I was correct.

So we arrived at the junction, it has the Stratford Lock imagine, going in a straight-ish line with the cutting The Arm from the Grand Union joining it at right angles, so it's a bit like a triangle on a road.

As David brought WaL up the Stratford canal to start the Lapworth Flight, I went ahead to prep the first lock of the flight, I then ran along to the second lock and checking first of course that no other boat was approaching I raised one paddle, then repeated this with the third lock.  No other boats in sight coming down.  Then I ran back to the first lock to find it had emptied and I opened the gates.  WaL was almost ready to have the gates opened on the lock below then I saw another crew approaching this same lock, their boat had come along The Arm (The other side of the triangle so to speak possibly from the Hatton Flight)  She said oh this lock is ours, our boat is here first.....
Now Reader as you may not have met me, you won't know that I am a most easy going and compliant person, however not on this occasion.  I said a bit forcefully that this was my lock as I had prepped it and that I had also ran ahead and prepped the next two as well.
The lady replied saying but their boat was ready, (David now 15 seconds away from gate opening), 
Well she said I don't know where he'll wait... 
Anywhere except in this lock says I.
Well I'll have to tell him then, she walked back to her boat past David and told him "Your wife has refused to give us this lock", he was oblivious at first but had realised what I had done with the next locks.

I got to David and told him to get his finger out as we are going to have to get a wiggle on now....

So that was it Reader, not open warfare, no bad language, but what would you have done?  I did run back and wound up a paddle to assist her with the first lock,  but I was turning each lock as well as her.

Well we worked together with D climbing off to shut gates and both working hard, then we swapped over and David got the bike out, and we got an easy rhythm going and soon we were ahead, then, the six clear locks ahead and when we finally moored up over looking Lapworth Cricket club they came past 45 minutes later.  

The Lapworth Flight

David preparing to do the "Vic from NB No Problem Trick" of kicking open the gates, he's testing it here...

Then it came back on him and he was nearly in the water, he'll deny it of course, pity it would have made a good photo.

Almost at the top, a most attractive cottage here.

The village of Lapworth just over a buttercup filled meadow that I walked through later.

The other day when we were at Packwood House, the Room Guides were telling us that this property, Coughton Court Near Alcester had a connection to The Gunpowder Plot.  We had visited Ashby St Ledgers last year and read that the Plotters had plotted in the Gate house of that property   HERE   I was very keen to find out more.  So David fetched the car from Lapworth village and off we went.  Alcester is a lovely lovely town close to the River Avon, in fact we popped up there from Bidford-on-Avon weeks ago, but we were glad we had left this visit as the gardens were wonderful today much of it in bloom which it would't have been all those weeks ago.

So there was a family connection between here and Ashby St Ledgers cousins had married and a wife was a Catesby, when the plot had been discovered they all fled London and came here to this house for succour amongst other house and eventually had a shoot out and it all came to a sticky end.

Its a complicated story, we went on the guided tour for the Gunpowder Plot History and had the speaker all to ourselves, he was most knowledgable and said that there is no evidence that any plotting went on in these houses, it was done in London.  He also went on to tell that the plotters numbered about a dozen taking part, but the figure is much higher of those that helped with some historians putting the number at over a hundred.  I can't help thinking that if a hundred were recruited then they may very well have met locally in secret and secrets often leave no evidence.

Coughton Court all the action happened about 1605, The Throckmorton Family have lived here since 1409 and are still here today.

Orange and red border 

Right opposite the purple and blue border.

Nice lime green planting to match the colour of the pool.... a bit yuk

Perfect timing for Irises.

Golden Hop

Magical Foxgloves.

All in all a fabulous day.  Coughton Court was well worth a visit and the gardens are terrific.

We left the car in Lapworth village and walked back to WaL over meadows of golden buttercups.  The cricket team were playing and David stayed to watch whilst I made supper, 
Cauliflower cheese with mushrooms, tomatoes and olives.


  1. My vote goes to you Lisa. If David had still been in the previous lock that might have made a difference, but surely the woman saw you opening the lock? if that had been you in her place I bet you'd have looked to see where her boat was before saying it was your lock. She should be grateful you lifted a paddle for her, did she say thank you?
    PS lovely photos

    1. Hi Debby,

      Thank you for the photo compliment!

      To be fair, the lady did thank me for raising the paddle and said I didn't need to have. It was a grey area in lock etiquette, one that I haven't been in before. I was just incensed that having run and emptied three locks I wasn't going to give them away.
      So we both had to empty all the locks barring only two I think two boats coming down.
      Yes you are right I would never have "Demanded" the lock.


  2. I'm with you, Lisa.
    We (I) had a grump at a couple of boats when we came up the north Lapworth Locks on Sunday. We were in the first lock, the second lock was our way (although we hadn't emptied it) and as I walked up to open it, I see some woman is opening the top paddles to fill it, and said Oh, I didn't see you there.'If she'd walked to the end of the lock she would have. So she got absolutely no help from me or from Julia or David.

    Then I walked on to the 4th lock and a bunch of Aussie hirers were doing the same thing. Their reason was that some walkers had told them the next boat in front of them was also going down. I did help them and did apologise for being grumpy. Had to make a note to myself that getting shirty was contrary to the purpose and ethos of boating - but boy, it is difficult when confronted with such selfishness!


    1. Hi Marilyn,
      It leaves such a horrid taste in the mouth doesn't it when these things don't go smoothly. So before this monsoon of a weekend water shortages were the name of the game with closures imminent so when she saw you she should have re-emptied the lock surely?


  3. You get my vote too Lisa.
    Sounds like David was the closer boat to me and she was trying it on so would not have to turn each lock. Oh and for her temerity she'd have got no help from us.

  4. Hello Steve,
    Thank you for that vote. I think it was a bit of a grey area, she could easily have said that I raised the paddles on locks two and three prematurely. I feel far more charitable now!