I am not used to dawdling along and for the last week we have done little else.
With over a week to get to Birmingham from Droitwich we have been taking things slowly, very slowly. We don't want to be in Birmingham before Tuesday, so our destination for Monday night was Hopwood, the last countryside mooring before Wast Hill Tunnel and the West Midlands conurbation beyond.
With guests on board our schedule is being largely dictated by the availability (or non availability) of sanny stations (Barry dont laugh). There is a distinct absence of this essential facility in the area with the last being at Black Prince in Stoke Prior and the next being in Kings Norton. Luckily, for a small fee, ABC Leisure will let you use their "little room out the back" so we elected to set up camp on the 48 hour mooring opposite. Whilst the mooring may not be the quietest, there is lots to watch in a busy hire base.
I always find myself drawn to boats being craned out or in, with 15 tons dangling below an ancient crane and all depending on the integrity of a single shackle. Of course, these machines are regularly inspected and the operators trained in their use so there were no hitches, but you always wonder "what if ?"
Saturday was cold and windy but not withstanding this we had a steady trickle of customers wanting to buy preserves. Sunday, by contrast, was roasting hot so we sat out the back all afternoon and didn't sell a single jar - inexplicable! On Sunday morning we decided to visit one of the local churches and initially St Lawrence was the hot favourite, but a closer inspection of their service times swung us in favour of the Baptist Church in Red Lion Street. This traditional Baptist chapel has just been extensively refurbished and the welcome was a good as the ambiance.
Having used up our allotted 48 hours on the mooring we progressed on to Hopwood, a mere 2.5 miles distant stopping for water at the Lower Bittell Reservoir. The pressure is good but the associated mooring is horribly silted, which explains its lack of use. CRT have just spent a lot of money on the reservoir and its surrounds, dredging and piling the feeder from the canal to the upper reservoir. They have also spent a lot of money on electrically operated hydraulic stop gates in the bridge holes at either end which are needed should the embankment with canal on top breach. The lower reservoir is way down at present to accommodate the trout fishing club who wanted to net the fish, and are now chuntering about the time it is taking to refill.
The old lengthsman's house at the end of the reservoir is still empty and awaits CRT attention to make it let-able. It is quite an attractive three bedroom house but is probably unsaleable given its lack of foundations and its precarious closeness to water on all sides. Still, its a shame to see it empty. It appears that it suffers from damp and the remedy is to apply a waterproof membrane, insulation and rendering.
And so we arrive at Hopwood with a plan to visit the Hopwood House Inn for a meal this evening. And as for trade in this remote location - I had a queue within 15 minutes of our arrival!