Typical split bridge of the Stratford canal – taken when we were going down lock 21
I don’t suspect many people these days were brought up without central heating. I was, and I can remember many a winter’s morning when Jack Frost had visited the inside of my bedroom window. Rather than talking about how cold it was, I recall my mother waking me up for school and building up the excitement before opening my curtains and saying, “I wonder if Jack Frost has been”. If he had, then we would marvel at the different patterns formed on the glass rather than focus on how cold the room was.
I mention all this as, even though we have a stove and central heating on the boat, we rarely use the heating and, when we go to bed we leave the stove in but shut the bedroom door and have a window ajar. This means that whenever there’s a frost, we have ice over the inside of our bedroom window and I’m always reminded of my Jack Frost childhood days. Some mornings, when it’s been extra cold like this Sunday morning, we have frost on the inside of all the windows on the boat apart from the one next to the stove. Fortunately, stoking up the fire soon warms the place up and melts the ice.
The water wasn’t frozen outside the boat on Sunday morning, but looking down towards the top lock we could see it was iced over. We decided it was only a couple of millimetres thick, so we set off down the flight at about 11. Karen helped me through the first lock and then took Buddy and drove the car down to Lapworth. They then walked back up the flight to meet me.
Tied up whilst I got the second lock of the day ready
When I was in the second lock a guy came up and asked if I was with the lady and dog as she had left a windlass at the top lock. Karen later told me that the guy offered to close the lock gates for her whilst she held Buddy as there were a couple of feisty dogs coming past. Of course, once you’re out of sync something goes wrong – she forgot to pick up her windlass.
The paddle on the left on the picture above has finally been repaired. It has been out of action for many years but must have been one of the items on the list when the flight was closed for maintenance before the New Year.
I had forgotten how many gongoozlers there are at the flight all year round and it seems everyone wants to talk and take pictures. Fortunately, we weren’t in a hurry and I had only got through the first four locks when Karen and Buddy met up with me.
Leaving the third lock
At the third lock, a lady was taking lots of pictures and videoed me coming into the lock and leaving it. When I was closing up the lock she asked if she could use the pictures as she wanted to send them to relatives who live in California who have never seen narrowboats going through a lock.
As the locks are generally close together there was only ice on the longer pounds but again, not enough to damage the boat. We saw no other boats on the move all day so had the flight to ourselves.
Beautiful blue skies heading to Lapworth on an ice-free pound
Talking about ice on the windows earlier reminded me of a winter’s school day when me and my siblings were arguing at the breakfast table as Dad was leaving for work. His car was parked outside one of the kitchen windows and, as he opened his door, he banged on the kitchen window and shouted for us to be quiet. I seem to think that because of the heavy Jack Frost, the window shattered. My recollection was that he was so cross he just drove off to work leaving Mum to clear up the mess. Talking to my dad about this recently, he also has the same recollection as he was so Victorian in those days – how things change 😊
Buddy waiting for us at one of the locks - I'd forgotten how tall Karen is
All the recent rain meant that all the pounds were full and the overflow sluices had a lot of water running through them. Quite often some of the pounds are really low and care has to be taken not to ground the boat. Usually, one of us has to walk ahead and let water down a couple locks to bring the affected pound up to a safe level.
So much water that it was running over the towpath
We stopped in the penultimate lock of the day as it was near the recycling and rubbish point. We hadn’t got rid of any recycling since we were at Alvechurch so the cratch was full – it was good to get rid of it as we use the area for storing the coal, fruit and vegetables.
Lapworth basin. The lock in the background was our penultimate lock of the day where we stopped to get rid of our rubbish etc.
Once in the basin we moored up at the service point to take on water and do a pump out. The water pressure was low so it took well over an hour to fill the water tank. We then went down the final lock of the day, taking us onto the South Stratford canal and moored at one of our favourite locations – ‘The Marquee Field’. We won’t be going down the final six locks of the flight as we will be reversing back to the basin and heading down the Grand Union to Warwick and Leam after we have stayed here for a couple of weeks.
Moored up on Sunday evening