September 1st 2011
Today, we had a rest day from travelling and a busy day, of course (how could we not), getting AM more prepped for painting which involved sanding and undercoating the side we could get to from the towpath. The side we didn’t do was done about a week ago when we moored just before
Wolverley Bridge north of Kidderminster.
The day after Stourport Lock Rage we headed along the beautiful
Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (aka Staffs & Worcs Canal) through Kidderminster which had the usual abundance of charity shops (even one for Staffy dogs!). The moorings, for boats, was beside Tescos. In order to get to Kidderminster we needed to have an anti vandal key, to unlock the ladders to wind up the sluices to the locks. No-one told us about this, so we were unaware of this requirement. Fortunately we weren’t the first boat in the queue to use the lock so the anti vandal key wasn’t needed. The lock we needed to use after Tesco’s had the impressive view of “the dark ’s and All Saints”. There were 6 people seated with their easels painting the church while I pleaded with the woman from the boat, in front, to leave the ladders unlocked! The woman was not too happy about that and did so reluctantly. Of course I didn’t snib the lock after we used it, cos another boat was waiting to use the lock! Then we stumbled across Sainsbury’s and I raced in for some red wine. We went to push the boat out and it wouldn’t move but there were some helpful people from the Sainsbury’s building site who gave us that extra push! church of St. Mary
Some of the canal is a bit shallow and we needed to be aware of this as we ticked along. My best purchase, that day, was “The Rocky Horror Show” CD and I cranked it up on the CD player and sang my heart out. We had a bit of a family walking their dog along side us. I asked the boys if they knew the music and they said “no” but their Mum probably did. Later at the next lock, their Mum was able to tell me “it was the best album ever!” The raunchy bits, I did turn down! (Sometimes one has to be Responsible lady!)
I don’t think I’ve mentioned too much about the weather but it deserves a mention again. Crap! But the day, after
Kidderminster, dawned with a bit of clearish blue sky and we decided to get on with sanding and undercoating. Actually we had started after we moored the day before. Are you with me?! All the allotment rooftop garden was put on the towpath and the roof got a good sanding and strips were undercoated as we need to make some of the surface nonslip blah blah blah. A woman walking her dogs, stopped to have a chat. A sad story followed as she told of how she and her husband used to have a narrowboat and had dreams of spending some years of their retirement voyaging the canals. Sadly, he fell into a lock and died. Yes, do not take locks for granted and always hold onto the rails when walking across the lock gates.
We finished, what we could, of the painting, before the rain clouds appeared and then motored on up to Kinver passing red cliffs and wooded canal sides. Kinver is very pretty. There are some troglodyte buildings and well worth a revisit, one day.
Moving along the Staffs & Worcs we passed some cute named locks & bridges, amongst which Botterham, Wombourne, Giggetty and Bumblehole made me smile. Then we came to a staircase lock comprising of 3 locks. This staircase had a resident Lock keeper (we bought an Anti Vandal Key from him) who was keeping his son busy in the school holidays by assisting us canal people. The rise went without incident and I relayed our unfortunate Stourport experience to the Lock keeper. On that note, I had written to British Waterways a few days back, to express our experience. Here is the reply I received
Thank you for your email dated 22nd August 2011.
I am very sorry that you had a bad experience whilst traveling up the staircase at Stourport. Unfortunately we are unable to man these structures, but are in the procedure of putting up extra signage up with the basin duty phone number on so customers can summon assistance.
I have asked members of staff who work at Stourport to watch out at busy times for this sort of antisocial behaviour.
If you could forward me the details of the boat of which the person exchanged heated words with and was threatened with the windlass I will pass this on to our Enforcement Team who will investigate the matter. We would also encourage any antisocial incidents of this nature be reported to the local police.
I would like to once again say, I am very sorry about this incident you have gone through hope this has not put you off coming to this area again.
Nice letter, I thought.
Now we are on the
and it is, again, another lovely canal. Not so many locks but I am having a bit more ‘Tiller Girl’ experience. I still don’t like the locks but there are not so many except yesterday was 20! Little locks and a lot of traffic going up and down so that means we work in with the boats coming in the opposite direction. The locks are narrow and not too deep. I can jump, without danger, onto AM’s roof while she is in the lock and step onto the other side to get to the other gate. Well if you can why wouldn’t you!?! And, if you are wondering, I am now healed from the Hatton flight. Some of the locks, yesterday had veggie, meat, egg & cake stalls. I couldn’t resist ½ doz double yokers. I asked the chap I bought the eggs from if he was Jamie Oliver. He said “no” but he wishes he was as handsome as Jamie. I don’t think Jamie is handsome. Shroppie Canal
And, now, to my title about Head banging. AM gets sympathy because she gets the occasional bump and scratch. Narrowboats are a contact sport, they expect it. They don’t have feelings and they don’t experience pain! If they bump a lock wall, it’s hard not to when you should see the narrow space they have to negotiate, it is called a ‘kiss’. We all try not to bump other boats and generally we don’t. However either exit from AM within her walls is not always smooth due to me being a lady that multi tasks I quite often bang my freakin’ head. Ouch ouch ouch! Yesterday I was bringing in the dry washing from under the cratch cover in the bow and keeping my eye on the approaching lock and I forgot to duck. The sunglasses, on my head, tried to embed themselves in my scalp, ouch. Then there’s the steel hatch at the stern end which has 4 steps to climb. If the weather is inclement which it can be on a regular basis, then the hatch cover is pulled over making it a keep- low- as- you -exit activity. I’m getting better at avoiding contact but my head is feeling a bit of wear and tear. My advantage is I’ve got ‘big’ hair but I tell ya it doesn’t soften the blow if I make contact.
Laters. We are moving to the Llangollen Canal.