Sunday, 5 March 2017

Movement - I've seen it again

Wednesday 1st March to Saturday 4th March 2017

Wednesday came along and with it a lovely morning with the sun out quite brightly. After breakfast our first task was to venture up and see if there was or had been any activity in relation to the tree across the canal.

We knocked on the hatch of NB Rune and had a chat to Julia and John about the area and where the facilities and shops and most importantly, the pubs where located; we had the inevitable chat about the blockage up ahead and the skills that they shown the previous day in bringing their boat back to moor where they did – reversing quite a fair way and between moored boats.
So onwards to the downed tree, and as we neared I could hear distinctive sounds of a chain saw in the distance – too much to hope that the tree was being worked, but sure enough as it came into view, there was less of it and about a half dozen guys working on both sides of the canal.
In fact it looked almost like it was navigable, but of course it was not quite there yet.

We spoke with the guy in control and he estimated that it would be about another hour and we could get through – which would make it just before 12 noon.

We were impressed with the amount of work that they had got through and their estimate of such a short time to finish.

So back to the boat we went, advising of the situation to John and Julia; Diane was eager to get going – not from any other point of view than it meant that we could make in to Birmingham that day and save her a 40 minute walk to The Lakes railway station for our planned journey to Watford the following day.

Anyway, we cruised slowly through Bridge 15 and up to the tree, which unfortunately still had a bit of resistance in its limbs; the guys needed help to get close to the sections in the middle of the canal so one of them jump on the bow and was able to attach a steel cable to the offending trunk and the JCB at the top of the cutting dragged it clear; a couple more precise connections of cable to tree managed to allow a second tree to be moved out of the water.
Edging slowly closer to the tree in the middle of the canal - the guy on the extreme right is John from nb Rune

If you look closely at the right side of the boat you can just see the top of the head of the contractor reaching to tie up
the top of the 2nd tree - I am holding onto the back of his gear to make sure he doesn't fall in

There were a few “smaller” limbs to remove but we were cruising through by 12:30.

Apparently most of the delay was CaRT getting the landowners permission to gain access to the place to extricate the tree(s).

We were both impressed with the work that all of these guys were able to achieve; given the heavy workload that they have had since the previous Thursday when the storm hit, they have done a remarkable job and they were on their way to another tree clearance near Bridge 25 after they finished this one.

I have said it before, we both think that the work that CaRT and their contractors do for the canals and for boaters is excellent; perhaps in this case we might have hoped for a bit more information about when it would happen, but we cannot complain justifiably about the work that they all do.

It was with a little regret that we had to leave such a lovely place – the mooring were very good and once you look around you do find facilities that you need or find ways of getting through.
Boating is about facing situations that arise – it simply is not and will never be the same as living in a static residence.

We now had about a 12 mile cruise with just one lift bridge to negotiate and as we found a few more smaller trees in the water to steer around, but all went well on the trip.
We stopped at Lyons Boat Yard for diesel and had a great chat with the owner about his cruising plans and other plans that he was doing.
That too is something else that is remarkable about this boating life – the manner in which we all talk about our lives and what we are doing to people we have only just met but with whom we have this incredible bond of a love of narrowboats and getting out and about.

Lock No. 1 - always open - thankfully

King's Norton Junction

Gas Street Basin

Diane will tell you that you are not really in Birmingham until you can see
the BT Tower - so, here we are

We cruised into Birmingham after just 4 hours and as you always can do, easily found a mooring spot where we prefer to stay when we are there; it was definitely still light – being just on 5pm, but after securing the boat we started to feel quite exhausted and simply collapsed in the lounge to recover, knowing that we had another journey the following day, albeit by a different mode of transport.

By getting into Birmingham the previous day, there was less of a rush for us as we had eliminated a long walk to the station and a train to catch into Moor Street.
So we were able to take it a bit easier; managed to get rid of the rubbish; use the other CaRT facilities opposite Cambrian Wharf; Diane was able to have her customary coffee in bed; and we managed to secure the boat properly for us to leave her for a day whilst we headed down to Watford for a meeting with the vampires (sorry that should read the lovely nurses who take the blood for the tests) and of course catch up with Maggie and Paddy and collect 3 months of mail.
There was quite a bit of news to catch up on, not the least being that after 36 years they had sold their house and would be moving in about 8 -10 weeks.
We had suspected that they were thinking about it when we last visited them late last year, but sometimes you just think that it is a “that would be a nice thing to do” and nothing comes of it.
Anyway they had done everything, including finding a new place to buy – a very large bungalow – a situation that works so very well for everyone concerned.

So now we will have to change our postal address with so many companies that we have dealt with and stop some of the junk mail that we have kept receiveing but doing nothing with – a bit of a “clean-out” if you like.

I had neglected to mention that we booked with Virgin trains for the two return tickets (a total cost of £40 with reserved seats) but it was the first time we used the electronic tickets to the phone to travel – Diane had done it with flights in Australia – so a first for us and it turned out so easy – now converted.

The return trip was a routine affair; rain all morning continued until we reached Birmingham as we made our way back to the back to restoke the Reflecs back into life and warm the boat up; returned all of the gear that we had moved back to the usual places and for me to start getting some work done.

At last the weekend and the first planned job that I had was to make sure that Diane’s first coffee of the day would be one directly from Costa – which just happened to be no more than 50m away – in the revamped NIA (or Barclaycard Arena).


… I thought a lovely long got shower would be a good start to the day and by the time that I had returned, she who must be obeyed was already out of bed, dressed and ready to go to Costa with me – so why not.
Well, we left the boat at 7:30am, the Costa store was only just opening, so we thought, why not go and get a paper – easier said than done, but we found one.
We did have a coffee at Costa, just not the one near the boat; we did return briefly to pick something up and by the time we did get back to stay on the boat it was after 2:15pm – where did just on 7 hours go.
This shopping arcade reminds us of the great number of similar
ones in central Melbourne

The something that we picked up were a couple of rings and a chain and we had headed to the Jewellery Quarter, found a jeweller to reshape the band on one ring, do some repairs to the chain and fix the other ring including replacing a lost diamond; from there it was to Ikea, then to Primark, spent a bit of time in the Apple Store learning how to work with the iCloud better and looking at a new iPad for further down the line, dropped into the Walkabout pub on Broad Street for the Man United match against Bournemouth and some lunch and THEN it was back to the boat.

Ahhh! - Guinness, 5 screens that you can see at any one time,
now if only ManUnited had won
Needless to say that by that time we had easily reached our 10,000 steps goal for the day and knackered ourselves out – ready for a sit down and rest – luckily, not long after we did get back, the rain started – I did feel for the guy on the boat across from us who was down the engine hole on his cruiser stern attending to secret men’s business, but was getting wet in the process – the things we men have to endure.

But we were cosy warm and comfortable and stayed that way until bedtime!

12 Miles, 2 Tunnels, 1 Lift Bridge
YTD:  94 miles (151 km),73 Locks, 5 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 2 Swing Bridges

Total: 4726 Miles (7606 km), 3224 Locks, 129 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 174 Swing Bridges

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