Friday, 28 April 2017

Soggy soggy soggy

As usual, the mooring below Tardebigge Top was quiet overnight. We made a semi-leisurely start, planning to be at the Anglo-Welsh yard just the far side of Tardebigge tunnel for nine. Sheila's had a bit of a sore ankle after twisting it on one of our excursions to Morrisons, so I offered to steer today, after I'd worked us up the top lock, of course.

However, she felt it wasn't that bad and did her day on the tiller. Tardebigge Top is spectacular, being twice as deep as the other locks and at 14 feet a contender for deepest narrow lock on the connected system. There was originally a manually operated boat lift on the site, but it wasn't a success and was replaced by this cavern of a lock.

(People are often impressed by the standard of Victorian engineering they see on the canals. To an extent this is deserved, but it should always be remembered that the less successful stuff isn't around any more because it fell down, fell in or collapsed, sometimes quite spectacularly.)

We chugged through the tunnel, having stopped briefly to try the water point and deciding it was too slow to be worth it, then round to the AW place. Here they were shuffling boats to service them ready for the next hirers, but cheerfully agreed to sell us some diesel if only we'd hang on for a bit, and please would we back off a shade to let them juggle the boats. Sheila did a slick bit of reversing and then hovered the boat for quite a while.

Finally, we were able to come alongside the two hire boats and get fuelled up. I also asked for a couple of bags of solid fuel which turned out to be Taybrite. Not my favourite form of coal, but beggars can't be choosers at this time of year. In fact, apparently Alvechurch have stopped selling coal for the summer now, so many thanks to Adam for suggesting we stop at AW.

We've run out of kindling, too, and so had AW, so I bought a couple of the compressed log things Ann Street mentioned in a comment the other day. Here we were lucky too. None of the staff could remember how much to charge for them, so the girl on the till asked me if £1.50 each would be ok? Still not the good deal Ann got at Tesco, but better than what I think they usually cost.

Having got sorted, off we went again. And it started raining in earnest, all the way to Hopwood, pretty well.

As I pointed out to Sheila, I did offer to steer...

We hadn't recalled Hopwood, but it's a handy stop. There's a water point and a good length of visitor mooring, plus a pub offering a rotisserie. It's a Marston's, so presumably the same menu we sampled at Compton the other week.

We've been relaxing most of the afternoon, catching up with bits and bobs. Tomorrow, we'll have a longish day, through the depths of Wast Hill tunnel and the badlands of Kings Norton. We're aiming for Hockley Heath on the North Stratford, about five hours away.


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