Sunday, 20 September 2009

Indian Summer - Weekend to Brewood

Indian Summer - Weekend to Brewood
Saturday 13th September 2009
8 Miles
1 Lock
4 Hours

With Jeff away at a youth camp, Belle and I had a rare weekend of total freedom and where better to spend it than on the boat?

Not only were we child (or adolescent) free but the man from the Met Office promised wall to wall sunshine, a veritable Indian Summer in the dog days of the season.

We made a lazy start, not reaching Calf Heath till noon, but were soon on our way following the meandering course of the Staffs and Worcester, which mainly leads away from the towering chimneys of the Four Ashes chemical works. What a difference a week makes. With all the children back at school the boat movements have plummeted and the relative hustle and bustle of the Staffs and Worcs summit pound has given way to its more normal out of season solitude.

Even the delights of the Fox and Anchor at Coven failed to attract the boaters, with just nb Debdale moored up in the cutting - this time complete with my fellow blogger, who spotted Wand'ring Bark long before I saw him. We did pause at the pub, but only long enough for Belle to dash in and buy two pints of Tiger, a surprisingly sweet and pleasant guest ale.

The boatyard at Autherley was a hive of activity, with all staff busily engaged in cleaning and repairing their craft for the last few hirer's of the season. We then passed Wolverhampton Boat Club, which seemed unusually devoid of craft. Such a mass absence is unusual but was explained about three miles further on where we found them all grouped up beside Park Bridge (No 8), enjoying a late season club outing. As this club is a near neighbour we see a lot of their members on our travels, and I have to say that they are always a very friendly bunch.

We winded at Brewood Cruisers, but it seemed a shame to stop at the visitor moorings in the shady cutting. Instead, we reversed back 400 yards to a sun drenched spot out on the embankment, a location better suited to our desire to have a bank side barbecue.

With a bit of time to kill we went for a walk, picking up a couple of photos of Brewood's two aqueducts for my growing collection. They are not exactly classics, but worth a look none the less, and at least they provided a purpose to our wanderings.

We cooked our cheese filled steak burgers and smoked bacon steaks as the sun made its way to the horizon, all washed down with a couple of bottled of chilled beer. The remainder of the evening was spent watching Richard Curtis's "The Boat that Rocked", a fitting title for a day afloat. This underrated film follows the antics of a seaborne pirate radio station (aka Radio Caroline) to its Titanic like end in 1966. If you get to watch this on DVD be sure to watch the deleted scenes. They may not have been deemed necessary to the plot, but they are very funny as stand alone cameo's.

We had a bit of trouble with the little inverter which powers the laptop. It kept tripping till I ran the engine for 10 mins, so I suspect that our diminutive battery bank may be losing its effectiveness and be in need of a change on 2010 - at least there are only two of them.

And so to sleep in this most peaceful of locations, a moonless night lit only by the spread of the Milky Way - oh yes, and the light pollution of Wolverhampton!

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