We first travelled down the Stratford canal exactly two years ago during Karen’s year off work. I remember that Spring 2015 seemed more advanced than it is this year as, on this day two years ago on this stretch of canal, we saw our first UK butterflies of the year – a Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell. We’re still waiting to see our first UK butterflies of 2007 although many have been seen further south and in other parts of the country. Tuesday was a spring like day but even though I took Buddy for a couple of long walks, I saw no butterflies.
I can’t believe we have been moored at Lapworth for a month already. I know we have been in three different spots but they have all been within 50 yards of each other so essentially the same spot.
Before we went out for our first walk I swapped the alternator belts for the spare ones I had bought as backup. This was on a recommendation from Karen’s cousin, Dave Heatley, and as it turned out was a good recommendation. One of the belts wasn’t the right size even though the boat yard had insisted it was. At least we know now rather than finding out in an emergency.
On our morning walk we went to see how the works were going on at lock 30. As usual the guys were quite happy to chat and one of them took me round inside so I could get a better look at what they were doing. He explained that the characters stamped on the stanking planks were stock numbers and each plank is registered in a log at Hatton. They then know how old each plank is and when it may need replacing.
The stank above the top gate of lock 30 (the stock numbers can be seen across each plank and the length is stamped on the rear)
He also explained how they remove the planks without getting wet which is something that has always puzzled me. First they knock out the wedge that is holding the planks in – you can see the left hand wedge in the picture above. The first plank is then removed and water starts flowing over to fill the gap between the stank and the top gate. Ones the levels are equalised the planks start floating up the grooves in each side and as each one is removed the next one breaks the surface. Simple really.
Once again, in the late afternoon, I felt a boat was coming down the lock behind us so I stopped them and explained about the lock stoppage. Like others this week, they were unaware of the stoppage and as they weren’t confident to reverse back they carried on through a couple more locks to the winding hole to turn and come back.
It seems strange that a sign hasn’t been put up before the last point of no return explaining about the closure thus enabling boaters to take another route. Neither Karen nor I can remember any closures not being marked in such a way. In fact last points of return are generally accompanied by a padlocked lock gate to prevent boaters carrying on.
Two men inside the marquee