Using public transport to get from a car parking spot to the boat can be tricky. The first officer and I left the car near our destination and then walked to The Square to catch a 110 bus to the station. We missed one because I was too slow and could not run so we got a 16a. That took us to the Bus Station which is nowhere near the train station and too far away for me to limp! So we got a taxi to the station, caught up with news of friends from the taxi driver who recognized my BCF fleece and found we had just missed a train to Bedworth, The ticket man offered us a route via Birmingham but that took as long so we had a coffee/chocolate and waited for the train via Nuneaton. I noticed that he had given me return tickets rather than singles but they willingly refunded me the 20p extra that the returns had cost! I used the disabled loo. I needed it opened by the ticket office staff as I did not have my radar key, but that was no trouble, then they opened it again for me to retrieve the train tickets that I left in the loo by mistake! Getting to the platform involved two lifts and a 50m walk across a bridge. The train from Nuneaton was a single car. On arrival at Bedworth we checked bus times and decided I had time to hobble two stops: two thirds of a mile to Bulkington Bridge . I broke our journey at Bedworth Fish and Chip bar where we purchased pie and chips for our lunch at £3.60 per head. We got there ahead of the bus. The pie and chips were still hot.
We left the mooring at 12.30 in bright sunshine. The canal was quiet with only a fisherman to disturb by putting the prop in reverse to prevent a collision at a bridge hole. He was peeved that his ground bait might have been washed away. How else was I to stop the boat? Share the space! Seems to work only in one direction. I still think that canals were built for boats not fish, voles, otters or anglers who all came along to freeload on the back of boaters. As we progressed more canal users appeared on the scene. Walkers, dog walkers, joggers. But there were very few boats. Black clouds gathered overhead and it started to rain just as we arrived at Atherstone Top Lock. A boat was about to exit the lock our hearts leapt with joy. We put off filling with water to take advantage of our good fortune. To our surprise there was another crew on the lock too. A queue! All the boats were hear on the flight. We had a good road for 5 locks. Unfortunately the nine boats had not spread themselves out so we had a good road for nine locks. They had filled and come up to queue at the next lock. Why I will never know! This practice was so engrained that a crew emptied and re-filled lock 4 making us wait in the shortest pound. The helmsman was surprised to see our boat when the gates opened and signalled to me that he had nowhere to go. I could have told him that! I signaled him over to the lock landing.
We were hailed by the crew of nb Grampus from Banbury in darkness under under Bridge 43 and by Chris and Jenny the crew of nb Wren's Nest on their mooring below the Bottom Lock.
We worked the last six locks alone, pausing only to shelter from a deluge at lock 10.
At Bradley Green Bridge there was a sign under the arch advertising the Samuel Barlow pub and its facilities including meals all day. The sign had a large white arrow pointing the way we were heading. With hope of a hot dinner we cruised on in the rain. We made that our target. We didn't pass the Samuel Barlow before coming to Poleworth Moorings soaked by the rain in semi-darkness and opposite The Bull pub. We moored on the piling by the bridge as all the rings were in use. We lit a fire, changed out of our wet gear, hung it up to dry and headed for the pub.
As we got off the boat a boater commented on the fact that we had lit a fire in September! "It's not for us", I said, "it's to dry our clothes, we are off to the pub" "That's all right then " he said. "the wife does not allow such softy behaviour." "I can hear you!" She chipped in. The Bull has an Indian restaurant upstairs and is a traditional local downstairs. On entering I asked the landlord if he was serving food. Not in the bar, he said, only upstairs. He poured a pint, from a choice of four real ales, and then showed us the way. Hence we mixed our pleasures and had real ale from the pub with curry upstairs, or should I say upsteps as the stepped pathway has every size and shape of step: high, low, long, short, sloping, flat, ridged and smooth and winding. Just right for a man with a dodgy knee!
Back at the boat we went straight to our bunks. 14 miles 11 locks 7 hours
We left the overnight mooring at 7am under a blue sky. The cruise to Fazeley was uneventful. The Samuel Barlow was not open for breakfast. The highlight was the discovery of the Bard of Glascote's work enshrined in brass beside Lock 13.
6 miles 2 locks 3.1/2 hours
Middlewich Sunday 21 October 2018
18 hours ago