Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Alone Again (not naturally)

Monday 20th June to Sunday 3rd July 2011

46 Miles, 48 Locks, 2 Tunnels, 2 Swing Bridges– for this fortnight

Totals: 623 Miles, 578 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges

I have been a bit slack this fortnight and Vivienne will not be happy at all with me

She has now left me - Diane has returned home to Australia.

No, she hasn't had enough of me just yet; this was pre-planned - there are things that she needs to finalise back there and then she will be back

After our long haul into Birmingham we spent a few days moored outside the NIA – some will say that we had overstayed the allowed time – but I will say that whilst it says 48hr moorings it also says that 5 pounds will be charged for each extra day – so not limited to 48 hours – that is only the free period, and as no-one came around to charge us the fee, then all I can say is that is their problem.

We did put our time to use – doing the 3 canal loops remaining off the New Main Line – all were very clean and no problems encountered.

On the minus side we had two incidents whilst moored – the first was a young guy hovering around the boat and then decided he wanted to see what was on the top of the boat and stepped up onto the gunnel – I had my eye on him, but Diane yelled out to me to check him out – I was on my way already – ready to take the hockey stick and ask him what he was doing – but on her voice he beat a hasty retreat.

The second was a group of touristy types wanting to have photographs taken of each other, but not respectful enough to understand that stepping onto the back of the boat without asking if it was OK first was likely to get people a bit upset about their impudence – explained to them that it was similar to me trespassing on their property and that they needed to ask first – not sure they really understood the cranky old b____r.

We made our way out of Birmingham via the Farmers Hill Locks and then the Ashton Locks to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and moored up at Minworth Greaves.

That simply is one of the problems going into Birmingham – it takes such a long time in and also going out with so many locks and miles to go, but the centre is very much worth all of the effort.

The pull of the Dog and Doublet was irresistible and further encouragement from she who must be obeyed did not get any resistance from me that we should moor up after just 2 hours.

We made our way to the junction but not before we pulled in for a pump out and for fuel at the Fazeley Mill Marina – just too darn friendly they are there. We asked about shopping there and were told about the retail park up along the road from Bridge 76 (heading north) – with Sainsbury, M&S, Homebase, ASDA and Halfords we were set, but it is a bit of a walk from the canal – but well worth the exercise.

That same day, we thought we would move away from the junction a bit, but the shallow edges meant that we didn’t moor up until we were at Hopwas – the neighbourhood looked a bit dodgy with Piston Broke (Lynne and Paul) as well as Tranquility (Betty and Graham), but we thought that we should be friendly to the locals – went to the Tame Otter for a meal with all of them – a very good night and good food.

Saturday was a day out as we ventured into Lichfield on the bus – just about 25 minutes and we were in the centre of town – we have been to Lichfield a few times before and we very much like the town – no exception this time.

We had planned to move onto Fradley Junction a day earlier, so it was on Sunday that we were off early as SHE wanted her Sunday roast and The Swan was a suitable place to get that – turned out to be a bargain – very good servings of roast and veges, and then there was dessert and coffee/tea included – all for 9 pounds.

With the countdown for Diane’s return to Australia well and truly into single digits she wanted very much to have a final run of locks and so we headed off early up to Alrewas and back to Fradley – 3 ½ miles and 10 locks on a very hot morning, but we had needed to wind somewhere so it all worked out pretty well.

All that was left to do now was to head back to Hopwas where we had arranged to be picked up for the car hire on the Wednesday – so we managed to get another shopping trip in – with the aid of the car we could get a fair bit more than usual.

You can never be sure about travel times on the roads, or at least we find it difficult to guesstimate them, so in our usual routine we headed off for the trip to Manchester Airport fairly early, but in the end we managed to not have to waste too much time at the other end; before we knew it, it was time for Diane to go through passport control and within an instant she was away.

She got home OK and whilst a bit sleepy for the first day, she seems to be back to normal (almost).

In the meantime I stayed at Hopwas for the weekend – the start of le Tour and coverage on ITV4 had to be worked in with a bit of work and some work on the boat as well a visit to the Tame Otter (again), but it will be 3 more weeks of le Tour and hopefully we can get Cadel Evans onto the top step in Paris.

Saturday late afternoon, a tap at the window and it was Elsie (and Ben) from nb Bendigedig to have a chat – Eric strolled up from the boat shortly after; Sue and Richard from nb Indigo Dream came by a little later, so we all had a good bit of a chat about the usual sorts of things that are spoken of.

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