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Saturday 30 July 2022

Brum is a Buzzin'.

 We had set off by 0930 and were soon at the first of the Minworth Locks. We passed nothing moving and only a couple of moored boats.

The girls opted to to work us through the locks and do what they do best, chat.

As we approached the Minworth top lock who should we come across on the tow path but old scout pal Stephen. He had walked from home to meet up with us. We stopped to fill up with water and then headed up the lock. Stephen had a ride with us into Aston

Her we are with the M6 alongside just coming up to Salford Junction. We missed the first turn and took the Aston canal, second on the left. Straight on would have taken us to the Perry Bar Alexandra Stadium where the opening ceremony and the athletic competition of the Commonwealth Games are held.

William and William T. Field were found at the Toll End Works in Tipton in 1880 but by 1884 it eas William alone. Before 1880 William was found alone at the Littleworth brickworks at Hednesford. These bricks were seen on the lock edge on the Aston flight of locks.

Here we are on lock from the top of the Aston flight. We only saw one boat and that was moored having their lunch. We didn't see another boat at all. Helen had a lock down the Ashted Arm and the moorings outside the University school were free, so we headed there. As far as I know you are only allowed four days in the centre of Brum. so we will stay here for a day or too before heading up the Farmers Bridge Locks.

The city centre was very busy and Victoria Square has constant live music and other things going on. We continued on as Helen really wanted to see the bull from the Opening Ceremony which was in Centenary Square outside the new library. It was very impressive.

I'm sure I heard that it is going to be a permanent exhibit somewhere when the games are over.

This is the Commonwealth Games and was designed by a girl called Emma from Bolton as the winner of a national competition. It is called Perry, after Perry Barr I assume.

The statue of Queen Victoria Square has been 'dressed' by another statue. It supposed to represent Queen Victoria with smaller figures representing those going out to other parts of the world. I suspect it may be to prevent any vandalism of the statue hidden within by protesters. Although I can only ever remember her with a street cone on her head before. This art work is by Hew Locke, a Guyanese artist.

Her are a couple of beauties on the steps of the square.

Round the front of the Town Hall building is the Queens College. This was the first part of Birmingham University and was founded by William Sands Cox in 1825 as the Birmingham Medical School. It was a residential school for training doctors. The building became redundant  and in the 1970's it was demolished other than the frontage.

I spotted this at the top of Comore Row on the way home. It is the old Scottish Union and National Insurnace Co. The building was opened in 1903/04, and the company started in 1841 as providing insurance for fire risk. There is a two storey central area with beautiful stairways and a glass roof. It is now obviously a bar as there seems to be a roof top bar there now.
Always look up when you are in a city, otherwise you will miss so much.

We went for our usual meal at the Barajee  overlooking the Worcester Bar. It was a great meal as always. We wandered back and put the aerial up and watched some of the Commonwealth Games.

Friday 29 July 2022

Bottom (of the locks), Middle ('ton Hall), and top (of the Locks).

 It was warm over night and I could hear the drone of the M6 as what wind there was was blowing our way. How ever it didn't keep me awake for more than about 10 mins.

In the morning, after the normal duties assigned me, I set to sanding the primer from yesterday and the washed the hull ready for painting. It didn't take too long and it dried very quickly, so I then covered the grey primer with a coat of raddle black. Whilst that was drying we got in our glad rags and headed for Middleton Hall for some thing to eat and a poke around the shops there.

The walk is through a RSPB reserve with lakes in old gravel pits and woods. You also walk past this abandoned farm, New House Farm. It has a courtyard in there somewhere.

A little further on is Middleton Hall which is moated and is a very old estate as it is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086

This is the courtyard building that has the cafe and some niche shops and beauty establishments. We just went to the cafe, needless to say.

Middleton was given to the Knights Templers at one stage and then was owned by the Willoughby's from 1493 until the early 1800's. Queen Elizabeth visited here and Knighted the incumbent Willoughby at the time. By 1980 it was empty and was part of the gravel quarries that surrounded it. When the quarry finished the Middleton Hall Trust was set up to restore and look after the buildings and the 42 acres.

To the right could be a French Chateau and to the left an old timber framed building. We didn't have time to visit the house but it is £7:50 each.

After our lunch and the walk back I set to with putting a coat of raddle black on the port side, and it looks pretty smart, for now, other than a few insects stuck to it too. Lets hope that it doesn't get marked on the way up the Curdworth Locks as not long after I had finished we set off.

This swing bridge to nowhere is being left to rot a way which is a bit of a shame. As I was waiting for Helen to drop the lock for me to enter a lady came up from 'Forget Me Not' that was moored at the bottom of the locks. She said that she read the blog and she was the lady who 'knitted' the mooring pin caps out of the Sainsbury's orange bags! She also told me that 'What a Lark'blog team were heading up ahead of us. It must have been them that passed us just as I was getting ready to leave, and that is why we had to change every lock too! It was great to actually meet somebody who reads this blog. I was thinking that it was just my Mother in Law that kept hitting the read key!

We stopped at the Bodymoor Heath services for water and to dump the gash. I think this is the first green recycle bin that I have seen, certainly this year. However in the general waste there was still stuff that really could have gone in the green bin.

The st'bd side already has a bad rash of primer, but there is much more to do along the rest of the hull. Maybe we will be able to get it done later on on the trip. We topped up with water too.

Helen took over the driving after the Dog and Doublet, where I was surprised nobody was moored. The harvesting has started in this part of the world as they have already cut the wheat near where the HS2 route crosses the canal and the M6.

This is where the railway will cross over the canal and the M6 which is to the cameras's right.

Two Hours 45 minutes later we were at the top of the Curdworth locks, including a stop for water and rubbish disposal. Not too bad really seeing as we had to drop every lock to enter.

Approaching Curdworth Tunnel it looked like the moorings were free. We wouldn't normally stop here as it is a bit dark and no sky for the solar panels and the trees drip, and so do the birds that sit in the trees, but we are awaiting the arrival of our No.1 daughter later tonight so this is a convenient spot. Long day tomorrow so an extra hand is welcome.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Bunds, Boats and Bridges Galore.

 I am pleased to report that the HS2 works did not start work until about 07:45 after finishing last night at about 17:45, so nothing to stop you mooring just here. The weather was forecast to be dry this morning so I decided to get some primer on the work I had sanded down on the port side.. In the end I managed to put two coats and we left at about 12:15

We moored in Kings Orchard marina one winter soon after it was opened. It is now owned by ABC Leisure and is also a hire boat base. We thought it was good when we were moored there.

From where we were moored last night to the other side of the the Kings Orchard Marina this was the earth work they were putting up. from where we were last night it looked like they were building an embankment to get the new line over the A38, but I think, when we got to the other end of it, it is a barrier for sound and sight to protect the marina. We could also see a shallow cutting for the line.

The wheat fields around here are looking very good, and almost ready for harvesting. I'm not sure if the ears are as swollen as they should be due to the lack of rain but they certainly look good.

As we passed Willington Wharf we passed the 'Wand'ring Bark' and the 'Jam Butty', obviously waiting for their next market somewhere. Capt. Ahab's Watery Tales Blogs are now few and far between. The number of bloggers has reduced markedly as people retire from the waterways and some who have gone down the commercial route of Vlogging. Everybody and their dogs seem to think people want to watch them, and too be fair, I think they get plenty of viewers. Not for me, although we will have to see what happens.

There was a hell of a row going on as we passed through Willington and it was three moorhens having a right ding dong. I had never seen them acting so aggressively. Unfortunately by the time I focused the camera they had declared a truce until we had passed and then they started up again for a short time.

Here is the stone marking the boundary between the part of the canal constructed by the Trent and Mersey Co and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. This was due to the fact the Coventry Canal Co were very tardy in completing the canal. After 17 years since they got the Act of Parliament it still was n't finished, partly due to the fact that they were short of capital and maybe also that they wanted to protect their trade from the Warwickshire coalfields from that from the North Staffs. coalfields. This was holding up the development of trade for both the Trent and Mersey and the Birmingam and Fazeley Canals. From now the bridges are named rather than numbered as per the Birmingham and Fazeley system.

There are plenty lengths of restricted width of canal where the reeds have encroached. As we approached a boater complimented me on the work done to the port side in readiness for the painting. Yesterday Helen had been saying that nobody had complimented her on the flowers up for'd. (I said for good reason!), but a little later somebody did just that.

I suddenly remembered that the guy who mentioned my painting was on a boat I had noticed in April as having a very old hull. I shouted back to ask him how old it was and I'm sure he said it was 1889 and had been a double ended day boat. You can see from this photo in April that it has a good age. The other end has been cropped now, and shortened.

I had a look in the archives to see if I could find anything interesting about the canal in these parts. At Huddlesford in 1839 there was a big case that made the papers. It is not canal related but never the less interesting. An old couple lived in the farm with one maid. In the afternoon two mean called and asked for 'relief'. The lady of the house refused and shut the door. After the house had gone to bed the lady of the house, and the maid, who slept in the same room, were accosted by two men. They beat and cut the ladies and demand the keys and to know where all the valuables were. The lady was cut and had her arm broken with a poker. After they had ransacked the room, and the old mans too, the tried to force the women to drink a potion that they found, and then set fire to the room, as they had done the old man's room. The Maid was urged to leave via the window when the men went downstairs, to do their best to consume all the drink in the house! They returned but the smoke and flames meant they didn't notice the maid missing. They left again and this time the lady made a break for it through the window. She was half in when they came back once again, but she jumped for it. The smoke and commotion had been noticed and they were rescued, but the men had disappeared. They were actually caught in Coventry five days later having been tracked down by the local police, still with the some of the stolen items on them, and others traced that they had pawned. They both got transportation for life. I will have to see if I can find what happened. It just shows you that crimes like these are nothing new.

I do like this section of the Coventry Canal. After leaving WHittington there is Fisherwick and then the series of bridges called Haddemoor House and Farm and then there is Tamhorn Farm (This one), all quite interesting to navigate if there is something coming.

This is Tamhorn Park Bridge and between the two is Tamhorn House Bridge

The run through Hopwas Wood is also  a pretty trip but is always too dark and under trees for us to moor. Plus the towpath side is concreted after a break many years ago.

Hopwas Wood is a beautiful place to have a wander with many tracks through it, but not today as the gates were closed and the red flags firing. I'm not sure what they were doing as we couldn't hear anything loud going on. No time to stop anyway.

This is the last bridge before Hopwas and despite it being brick it is called Wood Bridge.

The number of houses being built at Dunstall Farm seems huge and is growing apace. Many of them seem to be sold before the roofs are on. They are even putting up a couple of four storey buildings. Are they to be apartments! It looks like in the end there will be about 1000 homes on the site.

I thought we were going to stop at Fazeley for a bit of shopping, but no, that has been postponed and we sailed onwards, eschewing the water point and made a graceful turn up the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. We eventually pulled up just south of Fisher's Mill Bridge, and that will do for the day.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Where are the Teapots?

 It was quiet over night, and of course the railways were on strike so there wasn't many trains passing either. The weather was nice so we decided that I would crack on with the sorting the port side boot topping. This took a couple of hours and then we got cleaned up and headed to the Tuppenhurst Barn for lunch. It can be accessed from between bridges 56 or 57, but a little closer to the towpath from 56. It was very pleasant sitting in the sun. Once back to the boat we decided to set off and see how far we got.

The sun was out filtering through the trees on the way to Woodend Lock. We were trickling along to prevent us catching up another boat who was obviously enjoying the weather.

As we approached the lock the cloud got thicker and the sun less bright, but it was still warm. I have said before how much I enjoy this stretch of canal.

The boat ahead of us had taken the lock of a boat that was coming up, and we had to wait for another boat coming up so we were more spread out. I notice that the teapots from the lock niches have gone. I wonder where they have ended up? Anybody know??

The H2S work is really picking up near Fradley now. The diggers are bringing earth in from somewhere and then it is being loaded into movers and seems to be taken to where the embankment is going to be to lift the railway over the canal.

This is the line of the rails crossing the canal and I wonder how high the embankment will be when we come back this way.

The gates at Shade House lock were open for us and we were soon through. We crossed with an old commercial boat between Shade House and Middle Lock. It seems though that he had just bludgeoned his way into the lock past a boat waiting for the other boat to leave. They were now waiting for us to drop down and as you can see there was another boat waiting to come up too. Very Little wind today so everything was pretty laid back.

I brought the boat into the swing bridge and as there was no room at the water points, and no other boats waiting I sat in the gut and took some rubbish, that we had picked up along our way, including a folding chair, to the bins down by the cafe. By the time I got back Helen had moved the boat through the bridge and was sitting on the water point as the boats who had been there had finished so she swapped with them. It would be rude not to top up as we were there. It only took about 10 minutes all told.

We kept on heading down the Coventry Canal, past Fradley village, and under the A38. I was surprised how many boats were still moving as to has just after 16:00 when we left Fradley Junction, but they seemed to keep on coming. Th ere was a nice reflection of Bridge 88 with Helen's favourite house in the area right by it.We were heading for the moorings near King's Orchard Marina. Fuel at Streethay Wharf were advertising fuel at 153p.

Once past Streethay Wharf we could see that there wee several boats moored up by the marina entrance so we stopped just before. On the offside is another site of HS2 working going on. It was quite noisy but they all finished at 17:30. I'm not sure when they will start up in the morning though, but never mind as we are awake by 06:30 normally. Mind you that isn't when we get up!

Once we were moored up I decided to finish off the port side. The sander I have been using is cordless and the battery runs out after about 40 mins. However it doesn't take too long to charge up and as the sun was shining earlier the sun did the job whilst we were at lunch. I finished it and got it all treated so sometime tomorrow, if it isn't raining I should be able to get a coat of primer on it. You never know we may have one side of the boat that is fairly presentable.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Queuing Day.

 Another gray, dull and damp morning, and another boat went past before 07:00. Mind you, perhaps we should have done as a little before we wanted to leave a procession of boats passed us going our way.

It is well wooded on the way to Colwich Lock. The railway is very close and you can hear it, but not often see it. It is a pleasant stretch but too dark to moor up for us. Just before the lock is another rail route that takes the rails to Stafford from the West Coast Mainline and is used by a lot of clunky freight trains.

As we arrived at said rail bridge we could see a line of boats ahead. Nothing unusual about that but there seemed to be a couple of boats that didn't seem to have done many locks before! Nothing was coming up though.

We stopped for a bit of shopping in Rugeley and Helen had a trawl through the charity shops etc. We had a bowl of soup too and then were on our way once again. The sun was really trying to come out to say hello too, so the afternoon was looking up.

The Trent aqueduct just before Rugeley revealed a little more water in the river than when we passed going the other way a few days ago.

Just over the aqueduct is Brindley Bank and the 'bloody steps' where Christina Collins body was discovered and taken up in 1839. One day I will have to write a blog about that murder on the canals, although it is quite well now.

The Ash Tree has linear moorings at Brereton just south of Rugeley. So named as the club original started when the land lady of the Ash Tree pub let them moor next to the pub in 1970. Then in 1973 they extended the length by buying a strip of bank from the National Coal Board. The raised funds with rallies and bonfire nights and can be distinguished by being twinned with a boat club in France, the Club Nautique de Segre, which is a town about 150' from St. Malo!

The Ash Tree is right next to the canal and on the sharp bend under the bridge just before the Spode water point and moorings. I bet those sitting in the garden get some good views of bangings and crashings as it is a sharp blind bend.

Once we were through the bridge we had decided to stop for water. There were already two there but we weren't that long before it was our turn and we filled up so that we can dither about for a few days. I think that a few more bollards could be put in here as there is only the option for one boat to moor up, the rest have to hang on to a rope.

This is the view a get in the night when Helen gets up for something. Didn't scare the pigeon though

Spode House and Hawkeshead Priory must be worth a look around if possible. This part is now a wedding venue and the Priory has now become a nursing home and there is a golf course in the grounds.

Armitage 'Tunnel' is very narrow and you are encouraged to get off to check that nobody is coming. It is essential to do so coming in the other direction as you can't see into the tunnel before it gets narrow. Going in this direction you can see the full length before there is nowhere to wait.

Bridge 60 is another blind bend and quite narrow as the canal bends round a sandstone cliff that supports the church above. Nothing coming to day. The sun is well and truly out now and the light through the leaves is very photogenic.

I have often wondered how they replaced the broken glass in the windows of the Armitage Shanks Factory as there is no where really to even put a ladder up without it being in the canal. Today I looked more closely and it seems that it is glazed from the inside! and that there were holes like this that had a small piece of glass glued over it!! I am surprised the locla youths haven't had more fun here. Even the CCTV is not rained out on the towpath, so not seen as much of a problem, thankfully.

There were no moorings for us at Handsacre so we plodded on and found a free bit of armco between Bridges 56 and 57. Unfortunately it is on the wrong side for the paint work that I started previously, but I may spend the day getting the port side sanded and painted as it will be quicker as it is not nearly as bad.