I took a friend (Owl) who hasn't been boating before to Birmingham by train. A quick stop in the city centre to collect bacon, eggs, bread, milk and mushrooms and we arrived at Cambrian Wharf. We turned the boat and headed out of the Venice of the North.
I gave Owl the tiller as we left Gas street Basin and he gradually learned the lefty and righty bit about how a boat turns. It is all "flat" to the top of Lapworth Flight on the selected route home so we had a good chance that he would get the hang of it before he had to use it in real boaty situations like passing in a very small pound while turning to enter a lock on a bend. "Left a bit now back to the middle and a little bit further right to stop the turn and then back to the middle etc etc" we weaved all the way to King's Norton Junction.
Emerging from Brandwood Tunnel.
Traffic was light and we made good progress with "breakfast" on the Stratford Canal past Yardley and thence on to Wedges Bakery at Bridge 20.A must stop place. Back on the boat we had scotch eggs and cake (a custard slice for me and bread and butter pudding for Owl)
We stopped at The wharf Inn next. We enjoyed the Slaters Ale but the fish and chips left us disappointed. We noticed a chippy three or four doors further up the road and thought we would have been better off going there.
We stopped overnight above the Lapworth Top Lock. as the sun set.
Today started at 0130. "Can you hear that noise?" Owl said. I can't hear a thing after taking my hearing aids out for the night. "The toilet is oveflowing onto the bathroom floor" Owl continued. The flush had been left on and indeed the tank was full. I pumped out a bit of water but then we went back to bed, using facilities available on the towpath. I didn't get back to sleep quickly with canal maps and pump out facilities between Lapworth and Banbury going around my head. I heard birds sing (loudly) before I got to sleep again. The alarm woke me at 7am. I got the reserve portapotti out of the top box and pumped out the oveflowed water from the bilge. Then we started on the locks.
Half way down the flight we met a man bow hauling his boat through the locks. He was on his way to Staffordshire without an engine. I mentioned that the last long distance engineless voyager I had encountered was a woman who was pole-ing her shell to Staffordshire. "When?" he asked. " about 5 years ago", I said. He confirmed this to be his wife!
We entered the last lock at about 1130 and and were on our way on the level again. We moored at Hatton Top Lock at 2 pm.
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