With limited time to get the the AWCC's 50th anniversary rally at Knowle we had no option but to take the direct approach over the hill in Birmingham.
The Jam Butty arrives at Knowle
Fortunately we had Dan and his fiancee Becky with us who camped out in the hold of Montgomery and provided some much needed muscle on the 49 locks between Aldersley and Acocks Green. The "youf" contingent were not roused by by 6.15am rallying call so I set off with then still still in bed in the butty. It didnt take long for the gurgles and bumps to drive them from their pit, emerging bleary eyed from the hatched of The Jam Butty ready for a somewhat perilous transfer to the motor as we let the two boats come side by side at Pendeford.
The yoof emerge
The Wolverhampton 21 were all set in our favour and we were further aided by the arrival of my friend Chris who after a false start or two rejoined us at Coseley for the trip into Birmingham on the Old Main Line.
The Thursday trip ended after 12 hours of cruising at the mooring of Nick and Victoria who live in Symphony Court with some bees and a commendable Tesco's Indian take out.
With no time to waste we were off and away at 6.30am, heading down the 13 locks of Farmers Bridge followed by the 6 on the Ashted, an area which is undergoing massive change. In fact the whole East Side is being transformed, a process which will be accelerated by the impending construction of the controversial HS1 railway terminus. For my money the area is ripe for redevelopment and I welcome the regeneration plan.
A flooded Ashted pound
Ashted's by washes are hopelessly reeded and dropping a lock of water into some pounds results in a flood of water cascading over the next lock.
The area around Warwick Bar remains a haven of decaying tranquility including the iconic structures of Typhoo Basin, The Banana Warehouse, the FMC building form the 1930's and of course The Bond and The Minerva Works. Hopefully the essence of this stretch will be retained as it is opened up to a wider public.
Camp Hill was negotiated without incident beyond a couple of weed hatch visits with our passengers jumping ship at Acocks Green. We pressed on through the Knowle locks (lets not dwell on by 360 degree reverse pirouette in the middle pound) to the rally at Black Buoys where out allotted trading pitch awaited us at the back and of the row of 10 other trader boats.