A bank holiday bonus
There has been more than a touch of Groundhog Day about our boating just recently.
There we were idly planning a trip on the Shroppie over the bank holiday weekend when out plans took a dramatic turn to the south. Instead of a leisurely cruise on the flat we did a tough 3.5 days over the Birmingham Plateau and on to Calcutt via the North Stratford. At the end of this trip the boats have been left in the unfamiliar surroundings of Calcutt Marina for a couple of weeks. There is method to this madness - but I would have to kill you if I told you why - so I wont! All will be revealed.
Friday was a 7.30 start from Coven, passing The Jamiesons and Free Spirit by the pub and then making a rather slow ascent up the Wolverhampton 21 which offered some great blackberries. We seem to have made this trip a lot this year and once again we were to be found towing down the New Main Line and arriving at the back of Symphony Court at 6.30pm. We were fortunate to fine a freshly vacated mooring but maneuvering into the gap with the butty attached attracted lots of attention.
The Jam Butty is becoming a well known sight in the area - having been in several Waterways World event reports recently. Thats about to get a whole lot worse with a three page spread in the October edition (out 1st week of Sept).
Then it was another early start down the North Stratford where we met out friends Dave and Pat who helped us down the Lapworth Flight along which we picked several kilos of Damsons. The night was spent in the short arm connecting the Stratford with the Grand Union. Which canal is this?
Sunday was the trip to Hatton and along the way we stopped for water, making a fresh acquaintance with Tyseley / The Mikron who were resting after an evening performance. Hatton was busy at the top and in spite of 6 volunteers being on duty none seemed inclined to offer any assistance! The butty causes some confusion in these locks. Oncoming boats cant see the butty behind us and are confused when I don't indicate which way I will be maneuvering round them. The fact is that I need to keep moving in a more or less straight line and have to wait for someone to move out of the next lock and make a space I can aim for. An odd stalemate can ensue as we both wait for someone to make the first move... I never blink first!
A bonus of travelling this way in late August is the supply of plums - red ones, Pershore Yellow Egg and Damsons - kilos and kilos of them.
With the Sunday forecast predicting heavy rain we pressed on till dark, reaching the foot of the staircase in last light.
Sunday was a run up Stockton Locks - wet all the way but only soaking for the last two. Eventually Calcutt was reached at 2.00pm and our temporary home found in the driving rain.