Thursday, 28 July 2016

On to Handsacre

We'd had breakfast by seven and set off shortly after, Sheila steering and your correspondent walking ahead. Bob Drummond was keeping himself fit by assisting at Bagnall, an easy lock to work compared to his usual beat at Stenson. With his help we were soon through and away towards Fradley.

The motor of a pair was working down Common when we got there, so we stopped on the lock landing to let them get the butty down too. However, the lockwheeler waved us in, giving Sheila an "interesting" task as the landing is very close to the mouth of the lock. I said we'd been expecting them to bring the butty down, but the lockwheeler said "I'm not strong enough to be shouted at this morning". It's a shame that so few people on the cut understand the problems of working a pair, it being much easier to long line the butty down with the motor than to bow haul it through the lock.

We worked up Hunts on our own but found a volocky on duty at Keepers, it now being about half eight. Crossing with another boat at Junction, we saw that things were getting busy, but didn't get held up particularly. More volockies were arriving as we got to Shade House, after which we had a good run to Woodend.

This one was against us and no boat in sight, but no sooner had I drawn a paddle to turn it than a boat appeared coming round the corner in the distance. I quickly wound the paddle down, told Sheila what was happening via the radio and drew the top paddles to refill and open the lock. It was a family party heading for the Coventry and then the Birmingham and Fazeley, Mum, Dad and two boys. Mum told me that they hoped to get past Drayton Manor without the boys noticing.

Good luck with that one...

As we came up the lock, another boat arrived at the top and one at the bottom, so things really were warming up. We'd not decided between Kings Bromley and Handsacre for our overnight mooring but since the weather was still dry and we were well ahead for time, I decided to carry on to Handsacre.

It promptly started raining, but not sufficiently to cause me to change my mind. Indeed, it slowed and stopped after a bit. Unfortunately, all the best mooring spots at Handsacre were taken when we got here, one of the boats being Mercia stalwarts Mick and Cathy on Crafty Foxes. We've ended up on the bend under the trees, but it's only for one night, so tolerable.

It rained seriously over lunch but has stopped again and may even be warming up a bit. Tomorrow, we'll have a short day, into Rugeley, stop at Bridge 67 to visit Aldi and then on to Brindley Bank for the night. On Saturday, we'll carry on to Tixall Wide. Mercia has produced some leaflets about the stolen boat and plans a walk the towpath campaign on Saturday. We've asked to have the leaflet emailed to us so that we can do our bit with the weekend crowd of moorers at Tixall.


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