Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Fazeley (meeting up with our birder friends)

After a hectic Saturday (visiting the Black Country festival and our storage unit) we took it easy on Sunday morning and around midday left Atherstone for a four mile cruise to Polesworth.  As we were moored in the middle of the Atherstone flight we had to go down four locks first.  It was good to be cruising together and Karen operated the locks as is our way.

Karen happy locking – a great way to unwind after her long week at work

Before Polesworth there is an old swing bridge that is no longer in use and the canal narrows somewhat at this point and passes a smallholding. I’ve included pictures of the old swing bridge before but what was new was that eggs were being sold at the smallholding.  We followed the instructions on the sign and a lady came out and sold us some eggs and we gave her our empty boxes.  Buying eggs this way always reminds us of before we moved onto the boat and I used to sell eggs at work - they were a £1 for six then too.

Enterprising sign on the canal side: "Fresh farm eggs - £1 for 1/2 dozen - toot for attention"

We also passed a boatyard that specialises in restoring old working boats.  Again, I have included pictures of the yard before – it really is very old fashioned so this time we took pictures to show the works.

Hulk awaiting restoration

This boat was built in 1898 for Fellowes, Morton and Clayton – one of the largest carrying companies on the system.  It was renovated by this boatyard into a pleasure boat by extending the cabin down the full length

This one has been restored as a freight boat

Where the restoration is carried out

We moored in Polesworth and had our first roast of the Autumn – always a satisfying meal when there is no need to go outside anymore for the day.

On Monday Buddy and I set out for Fazeley where the Coventry canal joins the Birmingham & Fazeley canal.  It seemed fairly quiet on the water but when we arrived at the two locks at Glascote there were queues in both directions.  This always seems to be the case here, even when we have come through in the winter, and we have never worked out why it happens.

We’re next in and there are two boats behind us already and I hadn’t seen them following me all morning
Looking back as we left the bottom lock; one boat has already gone in and there are two more queuing on the left.  The boats on the right are on private moorings.

Nearing Fazeley I spotted a style of stanking plank store that I’d not seen on the Coventry canal before.  It was like the ones on the Birmingham & Fazeley, built into the side of the bridge.

Stanking plank store built into the side of the bridge

Air hole at the other side to keep the planks dry

Just before Fazeley we crossed the River Tame – hence the name Tamworth.  The fields alongside the river are a great place to run dogs so we were going to go down there as soon as we were settled in Fazeley.

Aqueduct over the Tame with Tamworth high rises in the distance.  Always reminds me of the song High Rise by Hawkwind.

We arrived at Fazeley junction and joined the Birmingham & Fazeley canal.  The Birmingham & Fazeley starts 15 miles further south in the centre of Birmingham and we will follow it to its end at Whittington about five miles to the north.  Strangely it then becomes the Coventry canal again until it meets the Trent & Mersey canal another five miles further on.

Fazeley junction.  We came off the Coventry canal through the bridge on the left.  To the right leads down to Birmingham.

We stopped to take on water before finding a mooring

Whilst taking on water I realised the boat moored opposite was Nuthatch and our friends John and Sue were on board.  We had a bit of a chat across the canal and once the water tank was full John helped me moor up.  We carried on catching up for a while and decided to go for a beer later.  Walking to the pub along a busy road John remarked how much he hates the world away from the canal and avoids it as much as possible – my sentiments exactly but I suppose I hadn’t realised how much until he said it out loud.   I suppose we are really referring to traffic, industry and people because we all enjoy getting out into the country whether on a canal or walking in the Lake District for example.

I had intended to only stay in the pub for an hour so I could be back in time to prepare dinner but two hours passed in no time at all.  John and Sue are keen naturalists, in general, and are incredibly knowledgeable about birds in particular.  I always enjoy picking their brains about birds.  All in all a very pleasant evening and as Karen was later home from work than usual, the overstay didn’t matter.

John & Sue’s boat in the dark when Karen came home from work

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