18th September 2016
It’s certainly starting to cool down and most noticeably in the mornings. When we first started in late May it was cool and Maples wasn’t prepared to sleep on the floor in her crate and insisted upon being up on the bed with me. This was most unusual for her as she has always liked her space. Well, last night she migrated back to my bed again and in fact squirrelled her way in under the blankets – lucky me!!!! It is a lovely coolness and being tucked in underneath two doona’s is a great feeling. Biggest problem is getting out from under them.
We are now noticing a distinct lack of bird song as we cruise along. The wild blackberries and fruit trees are out in abundance and the surface of the canals are now being littered with leaves. The seasons are a changing.
So today we headed back up to the Birmingham plateau and had to climb the Lapworth locks.
When you see a map like this, it is when you really are concerned about your sanity.
The culmination of the day consists of:
28 of these –
Two of these –
And at the very end, two very tired of these.
The weather was certainly in our favour with a high of 20c and sunshine making the task more enjoyable. We started the morning wearing toques and gloves but once the lock work started Fras shed most of his layers whilst Di took a while longer as when you are standing on the back of the boat you don’t move much. She did try a few of the locks today but the paddle mechanisms were extremely heavy and unsteady. A lot of the lock chambers were also in poor condition and large pieces of brickwork were missing and a few areas where collapse was not too far off.
There were lots of things to see on the way and it is always fun when you get to go under the busy motorways, in this case the M40, and waving to the sad looking faces in the cars.
It’s a lovely flight with the spacing easy to work. There were a number of the barrel shaped lock keepers houses on the way. Some of these have been turned into holiday lets.
We found one of the offspring of the Bismarck.
We came up to the Kingswood Junction where the Stratford Canal crosses with the Grand Union Canal via a small connector. It’s a very busy area and also convoluted. You need to know exactly which direction you are going and watch out for other boats coming out of other locks which is something we have never seen before.
Have been looking out for pump out opportunities all day as we have the “lean of shame” happening and it does make it a little more difficult in the locks. Alas, they were either not working or closed. We have a couple more chances tomorrow – fingers crossed and if we are not lucky we will be crossing our legs.
We came upon this steam driven narrowboat with a group of young people on it. It looked to us like it was a private boat so very much an enthusiast’s boat. There was a lot of work to be done when driving it as going under every bridge required the chimney to be taken down. You could also smell the coal as it chugged along and the kids loved using its steam horn.
There were some beautiful residences along the way. Years ago these would not have been desirable locations but strange how ideas have changed. There is still a lot of upkeep on these homes as many of them are extremely old. Sometimes there are dates on the house and when you see something like 1810 it makes one think that the plumbing, electrics etc need to be updated.
We are basically on the outskirts of Birmingham and we are pretty convinced we are in a rather salubrious neighbourhood. The RR’s and McLaren’s give it away.
We have pulled up in Hockley Heath tonight outside the Warf pub where we went in for a congratulatory drink following our mammoth day. Went for a wander into the town where we perused the local real estate window with the stock averaging prices of over £1 million. There were some definitely perfectly satisfactory abodes up for sale.
Early showers, dinner, a bit of TV watching, blogging and then very early shut eye tonight. We can sleep in tomorrow as we only have six hours to Birmingham and half one and a half days to do it in.