Lapworth (can’t believe it’s a year since the start of the last six nations)

Enjoying a rare lunchtime pint of Doombar with my middle son, Steve
The TV signal was non-existent at our mooring outside Shrewley tunnel where we had moored on Thursday.  As we wanted to watch the six nations matches at the weekend we had a mini cruise first thing on Friday until we found somewhere where the signal was fine.

Our Friday morning mooring

Reflective view to the front from our frosty Friday mooring

After mooring up Karen and I took Buddy for a walk before Steve turned up in the afternoon.  It was really spring-like: brilliant sunshine, lots of catkins and birdsong.  When we reached the Tom o’the Wood pub at Rowington Karen suggested we went in for a drink; most unlike us to go for a lunchtime drink.  We had just sat down with our drinks when Steve rang saying he had arrived at Shrewley early and was parked next to our car.  We explained we were over two miles away so he drove down to the pub to meet us.

The pub was OK but more of an eaters' than a drinkers' pub.  As a country pub that seems to attract lots of walkers it was a bit strange that muddy boots had to be covered up or taken off.

Karen at the bar

In the evening I was cooking a creamy chicken masala and soon realised that we hadn’t any double cream – a bit of a mandatory requirement for that particular dish.  Poor Karen drove to Sainsbury’s in Warwick to get the missing ingredient as Steve and I were both drinking wine.  To make it worse for her it had started raining, it was dark and we were now moored quite a way from the car.  Not only that, she had to cope with the unlit sloping towpath tunnel to get back to the main road in Shrewley.

On Saturday Steve and I drove to the Gunsmiths quarter in Birmingham.  Steve had an appointment at a gun shop to be measured up for a new shotgun and get one of his guns altered.  It was absolutely fascinating as I hadn’t realised that there was a Gunsmith’s quarter in Birmingham let alone the long history of gun and munitions manufacture in the area.  Sadly there are only four manufacturers left in the UK but the guy who ran the gun shop is setting up a factory; his great, great uncle used to run a gun factory in Birmingham.

Rather gives the game away – pub next to the gun shop

One of the rooms in the gun shop
Parking outside one of the remaining gun shops

As we had arrived an hour early I took Steve for a walk around some of the city centre canals.  It was really nice to find they were litter and graffiti free.  The last time Karen and I had cruised through this particular section the areas around the locks were littered with needles and syringes.

On Sunday we decided to move to Lapworth so we drove there in the car and walked back to get the boat.  We had lunch on the move as we wanted to get moored up in time for the Italy-Wales match.

Once again it was another gorgeous day

Karen doing some deadheading on the move

We soon arrived at Kingswood junction where we were going to turn off the Grand Union and go down the short Lapworth link which meets the Stratford canal.

Approaching Kingswood junction where we had to turn left

Signpost at the junction

We moored half way along the link where there was a clearing in the bankside trees so we could take advantage of the sun for the solar panels.

Looking down the link from our mooring – to the right a lock leads onto the North Stratford canal up the Lapworth flight – the gap under the bridge ahead leads onto the South Stratford canal

We had a walk around the junction to check what services were available for us.  The first few locks down the South Stratford are still closed for winter maintenance and I wanted to make sure we could get to the services at the top of the flight.

Top lock closed for maintenance

All services still available and plenty of room to turn round and go back to the mooring

We will probably stay here for a couple of weeks until the locks are reopened and then slowly make our way down to Stratford on Avon.   It is easy to park the car near the locks, the towpath is tarmacked and it's only eight miles from her office so it's an easy and mud free commute for Karen.

Stratford is only 13 miles away but there are 31 locks to go down; fortunately they are all narrow locks which will be a welcome relief from the double locks we have been working through on the Grand Union lately.

I know we have really enjoyed being on the Grand Union for the last few months and have made it our home but we are really excited about getting back on the Stratford canal for a while.

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