Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Circling Birmingham

This is the time of the year when commuters experience “Leaves On The Line” - the sometime all-too convenient excuse for late-running trains, but we have a different take on this phenomenon. Ours is “Leaves In The Canal”, slowing us down and almost stopping us coming out of locks.
Crusing on a carpet of leaves on the North Stratford. Looks like I could do with getting over a bit.
I don’t know how many times I have had to stick the old gal in reverse to clear the prop of debris over the past few days. Dozens I would guess. And I really can’t recall this being a feature of our autumnal adventures in previous years. Might it be something to do with my new shiny, propeller. Who knows! Anyway, that’s my rant for this week.

Our moorng at Curdworth. Waiting for whatever Hurricane Gonzalo can do to us.

 I write this as Hurricane Gonzalo, sweeps through the Midlands. We have holed up for the day beside a little village called Curdworth, between Birmingham and Fazeley. We are in a wooded cutting, by a small tunnel. We had considered stopping at a more open location, but this offered a degree of shelter from the strong winds and the trees are solid. There is little dead wood around. It looks like a good place to shelter. We are hardly moving and after just going on to “Facebook” I see from a couple of boating sites that boats are already adrift in some places.

I didn’t blog last week, because we had not gone anywhere or done anything much. We enjoyed our week or so in central Birmingham and got everything done we had set ourselves, the most important being getting Pat’s ears sorted out, which we eventually did at a drop-in clinic in the city centre.

The centre of Birmingham, around Brindley Place
We decided that as we still have a couple of weeks to kill before we go back into a marina for the winter months, to do a bit of circular route around the city, which is relatively easy, via the Worcester & Birmingham, and the North Stratford-On-Avon, before turning left and coming back into the city via the Grand Union. A big chunk of this was shared by our old pal Bobby, who left his good lady at home and spent three very enjoyable days with us. He’s pretty good on the helm, so I was able to help Pat with some locks, especially on the long Lapworth flight.

Pat & Bob at top of Lapworth Flight

Bob takes the helm as we approach the bottom lock, but one.
 I must say coming into Birmingham from the south is not too pleasant, once you have cleared Solihull and Acocks Green, especially around Sparkbrook, but we found a decent mooring in Bordesley on Sunday night and made a dash for here on Monday. As in most urban locations there is a lot of junk in the cut, and although there were the usual scrapes and bumps from the subterranean depths, we did not have any of the problems we had last time we cruised through the city and hardly saw any shopping trollies or submerged furniture.

Another side of Birmingham. Your welcome to Sparkbrook
Our overnight mooring on Sunday night at Bordesley

I did some calculations last night and by the time we return to Mercia Marina we will have done 2,250 miles and a massive 1,900 locks and swing bridges over the three seasons we have been cruising. Not bad at a average speed of just under 2mph. Just 600 miles this season though.

Naughty boys doing "CommunityPayback" on the towpath near Minworth. Seemed very cheerful
Fazeley tomorrow, weather permitting, and we should be back in Alrewas for the weekend on the Trent & Mersey. One of our favourite moorings.

Toodaloo chums


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