Around the Hawne
Following our weekend in Alvechurch we spent three nights in Birmingham tucked away on a friends mooring at Symphony Court.
Birmingham's BT Tower
The lay over gave me an opportunity to attend a CRT meeting, catch up on a load of domestic chores, not least visiting home to pick up the post and to undertake a mega wash session.
Trading spot at Hawne Basin
Then it was on to Hawne Basin at the end of the Dudley No2 for the 2017 Coombswood Trust bi annual open day. The trip there last Friday was in terrible weather with rain lashing down all the way to Netherton Tunnel but then, as we emerged at Bumble Hole the sun came out and we were sweltering.
Boat trips in Hawne
The Dudley No 2 is never exactly fast but the Gosty Hill Tunnel is something else. True its low and narrow now at present its shallow too, particularly at the northern end where the tug used to be kept. There seems to be a scour of silt and we made very slow progress through the tunnel.
For the open weekend the motor was moored in the rank of boats end on to the bank with the butty seemingly located in an obscure corner of the basin, a position which at first glance was not very promising. But hey, what do we know!. It turned out that all the visitors did a lap of the basin and we were the only show in that quadrant, so loads stopped to chat, sample and buy. Whilst the weather was never overly warm, the rain did hold off for both days and we did a very good level of trade, and took the opportunity to fill our tank with diesel at 51p per litre - enough to reach Bath I suspect.
Atlas and Malus on show
The event was opened by Richard Parry and coincided with a celebration of Stewarts and LLoyds which attracted a clutch of BCN, tugs which gathered outside the basin. Notable among the tugs was Bittell, fresh from extensive restoration and resplendent is a new paint job.
A gleaming Bittell
The rain clouds returned for our return to Birmingham, this time accompanied by high winds which made for interesting towing. We left Hawne Basin just before Atlas, Malus and BCNS's workboat Phoenix, but was caught by Phoenix as we plodded through the Netherton Tunnel. Our progress through tunnels is always a ponderous affair and rather than keep Geoff waiting I suggested they pass us mid way through. This unusual maneuver was completed and then it was suggested that Phoenix latched onto the front of Wand'ring Bark and we double head the towing of The Jam Butty. This speeded progress no end and we soon stretched a lead over the pair following - but whose light was obscured in the pall of diesel and fire smoke pumped out by Phoenix.
Playing tunnel tugs with Phoenix
The idea was to put Phoenix's engine under load for a while and give it a good de-coke, so we stayed in tandem all the way to Brades. Phoenix, Atlas and Malus headed off to Titford and the BCNS rally being staged next weekend and we plodded on through the rain to reach a very damp city centre at about 5.30 pm.
Wild Side duckling rescue service