Friday, 10 March 2017

Lapworth (visit from the boat builder)

What a glorious day it was on Thursday - I had so many reports from family and friends who had seen their first butterflies of the year.  Even though I was outside most of the day I still haven’t had my first sighting, although there have been plenty of bees round our flower pots.

On Wedmesday afternoon I started preparing one of our favourite curries and realised we had run out of fresh ginger, a vital ingredient. So Buddy and I went off in search of some.  We walked to the Grand Union and after a while found a boat called Pipistrelle.  Karen and I have seen the boat around the area quite often this winter so I suspect they are living the same sort of life as us therefore I was quite happy to approach them. There was a lady working on a few rust spots on the roof so I asked if she had any spare fresh ginger - as luck would have it, she did, and was more than happy to give me some.

Darren, the guy who runs the boat builders who built our boat, was due down in the late morning to do a few jobs.  I had given him the local postcode and said I would meet him if he called when he was nearly here.  We are near a CRT office so I asked if Darren could use one of their spots as he had some heavy equipment to carry.  They obliged and Buddy and I sat in the sun to await Darren’s call.

Sitting on a bench in Lapworth basin

Looking at the view above, to the left the North Stratford canal runs 12 ½ miles through 18 locks to Kings Norton where it joins the Worcester & Birmingham canal.  To the right is the South Stratford canal (where we are currently moored) which runs to Stratford on Avon 13 miles away through 35 locks.  Straight ahead is the Lapworth Link which joins the Grand Union (Birmingham to London) in the far distance.

It was good to see Darren again and after he had finished his jobs we had a good catch up.  On the last walk of the day I met up with Sarah and her dog Pip.  Buddy and Pip get on really well and spend ages chasing each other up and down the towpath.  Neither of the dogs is obviously dominant so they play really well together.  Karen and I met Sarah and her husband when we were out for a walk at the weekend – they have moved to the area from London and, like us, really like this part of the Midlands and can’t imagine living in the south again. Sarah has taken a year off, like Karen did, and her husband is still working.  They have bought an old house that needs renovating which is Sarah's job whilst she has a year off.

Whilst we were chatting, a local retired farmer (I can’t remember his name) came by on his bicycle.  He cycles up the towpath to Lapworth village to buy a paper every day and always stops for a chat if we see him.  As we were standing by lock 25 (Dick’s Lane lock) near the M40 motorway he told us a bit about the local history of the immediate area – he has lived on a farm in Dick’s Lane all his life.

When the line of the M40 was surveyed in 1987 two Roman pottery kilns were discovered and excavated.  They dated from the 1st or 2nd century and were then covered by the motorway. The vast amount of Roman tile fragments that were also uncovered led them to decide they were pottery kilns for making tiles.  Soon after the motorway was built a third Roman pottery kiln was uncovered in the field by Dick’s Lane lock.

The spot in the far left is where the third kiln was uncovered.  The canal is wide here because there used to be a wharf for unloading boats and a turning point would have been required.

Dick’s Lane lock (the bridge carries one of my much talked about unclassified country roads)

The unclassified country road above came to a crossroads with a road that is now made up and runs between Lowsonford and Lapworth.  According to our farmer friend this crossroads was famous for burying suicides.  In medieval times, christians believed that suicide was a sin and buried suicides face down with a stake through their hearts at crossroads.  The belief being that if they escaped then they wouldn’t know which way to go – the stake was meant to stop them escaping in the first place.  This practice went on until the 1820s when an 1823 Act of Parliament put a stop to it.  I need to find out more about this when I meet the farmer friend again.

I remember from school that the ancient Greeks and Romans accepted suicide as an act of self will which seems a perfectly philosophical way of looking at it.  It was only when modern day religions came into being that it was considered sinful.  

There were some movements in the marquee today but the only obvious difference was the installation of a bar/table/sofa/piano looking thing.  It also looked like a dance floor had been laid and vacuumed.  If it’s a party this weekend then it’s going to be a busy Friday.

A new big brown thing can be seen through the right hand window

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