Thursday 13th August
The route we have covered so far:-
Brenda decided to visit the Perry Bar sani-station for a shower this morning but due to a series of problems took about an hour and still failed to shower. We'll try and document her troubles in a separate posting as she has written four pages in the log-book about it.
We set off and headed towards Rushall Junction but I wanted to do a detour. For more years than I can remember, I have driven up the M5 and passed underneath the Tame Valley Canal aqueduct without ever seeing a boat on it and so I wanted to go there on Jannock. As the official route was not planned to pass across it Harnser and Jannock winded in the junction and reversed back the half mile to the aqueduct so that we could say we'd done it. After tea and cake we then retraced our path back to the junction and set off north towards Longwood Junction and it's boat club where we are stopping tonight. Once through the top lock we moored outside two other boats before the bridge. We had fish and chips on the towpath outside the clubhouse on a nice sunny evening before being entertained with a few songs by one of our fellow boaters.
How many BW staff and how long does it take to not take a shower!
Or - how I came to be walking along the towpath with no knickers.
For various reasons I decided not to have a shower on Wednesday evening, preferring to have the luxury of plenty of room and lashings of hot water in the BW shower block at Perry Barr top lock on Thursday morning. He and I had already had words because G was under the misapprehension that we’d be starting out at 09.30 and it was at 09.30 that I took the rubbish and my washbag and marched off to the shower block. Rubbish was skipped and I entered the sani. station with joy in my heart and shower gel at the ready. The ‘his’ and ‘hers’ loos were freshly painted and were unavailable just as the highest number of boats in one visit turned up; they say timing is everything. My needs were immediate so I entered the disability enabled loo. It was very dark in there. I patted the walls about the door hoping to feel my way to a light switch: there was none. I checked outside the door: there was none. I went back in, and in the gloom I could just make out a pull cord on the far wall. So I pulled it.
There was no light, but all Hell broke loose on the alarm bells front. I had pulled the disabled persons’ emergency alarm cord. Well how was I to know? It was dark. What I do know is that despite there being a BW staff meeting two rooms along, some 7 souls, no-one came. I knocked on the office door and asked for help. Help came. We all looked about for a means to stop the flashing and ringing. Phone calls were made, button codes were suggested, tried, and then just invented in desperation. All to no avail. Eventually I looked to the heavens and my faith was rewarded as I espied a switch marked ‘Disable alarm’. I suggested a 6 footer try it out. Peace at last. I made fulsome apology, much to my embarrassment, for having disrupted BW’s meeting. The good folk went back to it apart from the lass who said that since the light was now on did I mind if she just nipped in and used the loo. Since it was now occupied I went outside to tell our cruise organiser that the emergency was now over, as she had been concerned. After all, I figured, it is she who will get the bill for the disruption of the meeting and wasting BW’s time.
I went back in and started over. I was not about to pull that cord a second time, but there was no light on in the loo again and I still could not find out how to switch one on. So I yelled for help pronto. The BW lass came out of the meeting and explained that the toilet lights were actually automatic and would come on as one entered the room. ‘Just go in and the light will come on’ she explained. ‘Show me’ I suggested. She opened the door wide, went in and was as much in the dark as I was. She thought maybe you had to go right up to the loo pan. She did, and was still in the dark. It turns out that you have to open the door, fumble your way (in the dark) to the loo hoping that the door stays open enough to let a little light in and then put your arms in the air and wave them about as if you are at a rock concert or some such. Then, let there be light! If you are in a wheelchair, well your guess is as good as mine.
Now after half an hour, the shower I came for. I knew to press the button on the box outside the shower room which was signed WET PAINT because Graham had told me so. There was nothing else to say that that was what one did that I could see. Nothing that I saw to indicate that the box or button were anything to do with the shower come to that. The was an instruction sheet on the wall above the box, but it was in small print that I’d have needed my reading glasses to read, and I tend not to take them when all I need is a shower. Anyhow, it turned out they were out of date and referred to the now defunct payment cards and a price rise. I pressed the button, went in, got naked, stood under the shower, switched on the hot water and....nothing whatsoever happened. I pulled a towel about my person, grateful that I had a large towel with me, went back to the foyer and pressed the button again with more positivity. I returned to the shower, got naked, stood under the faucet, switched on the tap and you know the rest. Up until that point it had seemed quite funny. But now I was upset. I pulled on trousers and tee shirt and went outside to see if our organiser or anyone else could help. I was far too embarrassed to ask the BW people. Our organiser was elsewhere and no-one else had a clue. So, nothing else for it but to disturb BW again. The poor chaps must have been losing patience with me by now. They came and showed me how to press the button, proceed to the shower, turn on the water, and you know the rest.
Then someone’s penny dropped. ‘Oh, there was trouble with one of the outside taps yesterday. Perhaps the water has been turned off!’ Out came a phone. Someone had indeed turned off a tap but had not thought to install an out of order sign. A man had obviously been sent for as it was suggested that I could finally take my shower if I waited for about fifteen minutes as someone could then restore the water.
Well, you remember those words that Graham and I had had about leaving at 09.30; well that was an hour or so ago. So I politely declined the offer of a shower, grabbed my rubber duck, thanked everyone who had tried to help and walked back to the boat with tears of frustration and embarrassment welling up in my eyes, and no knickers on.
How many BW staff, about 5
How long, about an hour
And all I got was a wee and a cuddle from a kind stranger who was about to embark on her first canal boat trip to celebrate her birthday. She had seen how upset, embarrassed and frustrated I was by the whole affair.
Back to Jannock for a lukecold shower in a cramped bathroom. Oh, and I broke a nail!