With only 15 weeks of work to go now, Karen has managed to relinquish some of her responsibilities already. This meant she didn’t have to work on Friday for a change so, in the morning, we walked to Alvechurch along the towpath and also had a look around the town/village which lies about 1/3rd mile from the canal. There are a lot of modern houses in Alvechurch which gives it a town feel, but the independent shops and friendly passers-by give it a village feel. Strangely it has two butchers’ shops, so we took a while debating which one to choose when stocking up on meat over the weekend.
When we got home, Karen made some soup for lunch whilst I moved the boat down to the water point outside the Hopwood House pub, took on water, and then moored up a bit further on next to a little lay by. This was ideal as we needed more coal and as there are no fuel boats on this part of the canal, I drove to the coal merchants at Hockley Heath. I say ideal as it meant it was easy to offload the coal bags onto the boat.
Parking next to where the boat is parked
A couple of weeks ago I had bought coal at Lyons boatyard on our way to Hopwood and as they didn’t have our usual brand I bought two other brands. We have tried both and neither burn as well as our usual brand (relatively ash-free and hot). As the weather was predicted to be a bit colder over the coming week I was more than happy to drive to Hockley Heath as they stock our brand – oddly, even though fuel boats seem to stock it, boat yards don’t seem to.
Later on, we cruised down to Alvechurch and although it was crisp and sunny, cruising wasn’t easy as the sun was very low and in our eyes. We decided to moor up by the Crown pub right opposite the new marina that is being built there.
Our mooring for the next week (opposite the new marina)
We went for a couple of pints in the pub which seemed to only take men as customers as Karen was the only girl there. They were very friendly though and the landlord said Karen could use the car park during the week especially if we had the odd drink in his pub 😊 We had thought of cruising on a bit further on Saturday but with good parking near the boat and a non-muddy towpath we decided to stay put.
Further on from where we moored, at the other end of Alvechurch, is the boatyard where our first boat was built. It was built as a hire boat in 1992 and we bought it at the end of its serviceable life but had some happy years on it.
Once we were up on Saturday (which was a lovely frosty morning) we decided to go for a bike ride and then pick up the car that we had left at Hopwood on Friday. We had left the car next to a pig field and Buddy found the pigs very interesting.
In the afternoon we walked into Alvechurch town/village, visited the butchers and greengrocers and then spent the rest of the day indoors. We did come across this sign which can be viwed in so many ways, including an elephant washing itself.