Tuesday, 13 June 2017

How many volockies?

The mooring on the towpath outside Kings Orchard is very handy but not as quiet as you'd expect. For one thing, both the A38 and the West Coast Main Line are within earshot and, although it seems to be out in countryside, dog walkers come past at regular intervals. In addition, the marina is only just over the hedge and so odd disembodied voices are to be heard from time to time.

None of this is a problem, you understand, it's just an interesting example of the way what seems to be the back of beyond isn't.

Another start just before eight found us chugging along the cut to and through Streethay Marina. There were folk about already in the yard and plenty of signs of industry going forward. It's an "interesting" bit of canal from there to Fradley village which for some reason is always a) shallow and b) overgrown on the offside. It's not quite in African Queen territory yet, but if CRT don't do some dredging and vedging soon, it will be.

As it is, the steerer has to stay alert for oncoming craft. Fortunately, there weren't too many of these for the first hour, though once we were into Fradley village it got very busy indeed. There were volockies on both Junction and Keepers Locks and nothing coming up as we arrived. I managed another smooth evolution out of the Coventry, round onto the T&M and into the lock without touching reverse, a source of quiet satisfaction given the watchful eye of the lockie.

We crossed with boats at each lock on the way down to Hunts, following another down the last two. Sheila was chuckling as she rejoined me after Common Lock – apparently the chap on the boat in front had taken her for another volockie. In fact, he thought she was two volockies as he didn't realise that she'd walked down from Keepers to Hunts. He said he thought her double at the first lock had been a bit older...

I think she's still trying to work out if that's a compliment.

Although there was so much traffic on the move, there were lots of spaces both here above Bagnall, where we've tied for the night, and on the village moorings, as we found when we walked along them on our way to the shops. One boat we did find was Soda with Colin and Maureen, fellow lodge owners from Mercia. We were sorry to hear that Colin had been taken ill whilst they were tied on the Wedgwood moorings (they've been up to Chester and back) and had had to spend three days in hospital. They are taking it easy travelling back to Mercia and have already had offers of help from fellow moorers there.

The notice above Bagnall still says that the river section is in the yellow, Proceed with Caution, though in fact it's way down and the notice by the lock itself says Normal Conditions. I'll check them all and then drop another email to CRT when we get back. It's not good enough – if they are going to have the notices at all, they should be kept up to date. Of course, there are few staff at either Fradley or Peel's Wharf Fazeley now, since the abolition of the Central Shires Unit, and this is the result, I reckon.

Tomorrow, on to and into the marina.


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