6th September 2016
Graham was up and off at ten to eight whilst Brenda remained in bed. Just before Bourneville there are bank securing works going on which made a tight squeeze getting under the bridge. There is a new cafe set up bankside since we last passed down this way, the signs placed 100m either side on the canal bank advertise it as a ‘Barge Through Cafe’ although you’d have to seriously go aground to get that high up the bank.
Brenda’s favourite graffiti up until today was “Welcome to ‘wherever’, wear a stab vest!” but today she saw “You’ll have to clean this wall before I waste paint!” Councils take note! There was skilled art on the walls but unless it was Banksy . . . .
Back onto rural waters as we turned at Kings Norton Junction onto the Northern Stratford canal. As we cleared the lift bridge and approached Lapworth top lock a hireboat pulled out in front of us. As we joined them at the lock they explained what was patently obvious, it was their first lock ever. The steerer was nervous that the boat would not fit and that he might damage the gates as his boat was too long. Aged parents were inside, ‘he’ steered quite well but ‘she’ was having difficulty with the paddles and gates. I ended up helping them a bit as it made our passage smoother. She would go ahead and set her next lock while I let their boat out of the current one and turned it for Jannock. She would work her boat through the next one and then walk on down once the bottom gates were open leaving me to close and turn. The system worked very well allowing a reasonable passage down to Lapworth junction.
It seemed that their plan was to descend to Lapworth to eat out and then return back up the flight tomorrow as they needed to be back at Alvechurch by next Saturday. Towpath telegraph (the crew of a broken down hire baot at the top of the flight – awaiting a new gearbox) that the Navigation was fully booked for tonight so I hope they chose to visit the other pub in Lapworth.
Today we experienced another FIRST! It is the first time that we have knowingly shared a lock with a pike! Quite a large one that hang around the paddle recess until the gates were opened when he dissapeared into the lower side pond. Possibly he’d cleared out the pond above and was in search of new food. We’ve shared with ducks and swans before but never a Pike that we are aware of.
Finally out of the link lock (20) and onto the G.U. where we passed by the Tom O The Wood as the M40 and train noise is too high there. We continued on to the cutting just before Rowington Hill Bridge where the background noise level is very much lower – just how we like it. Brenda prepared and excellent stir fry to round off a good day.