Friday 17 April

Today the weather was dry and cool enough to apply the final enamel coat of black paint and we managed to finish this before 11am so that it had plenty of time to cure and harden during daylight hours.

Pip and Mick came to check our handiwork and to tell us that they were planning to wind and head back to Alvechurch in readiness for Mick’s boat electrics course tomorrow, and before the returning hire boats take up all the moorings.   We arranged to meet them on Sunday evening when we plan to travel together towards Worcester.

Max and I left Storm pottering on the boat and we headed off for a walk along the towpath as far as West Hills tunnel before moving away from the canal along a public footpath westwards across fields and for the first part of the walk we believed we were miles from civilisation as there were just occasional houses and farms to see.   We then rejoined a country lane and got to one stile where there was a map advising that an alternative route be followed due to subsidence. Thankfully I had my phone with me so photographed the map and we followed the proposed new route. This led us down a narrow and muddy path beside some kind of sports facility where there were many football pitches, beyond which the urban sprawl of Longbridge was visible.  Eventually we came out onto a busy main road where there was no footpath and we edged our way carefully along the grass verge until we found a safe place to cross the road as there was a footpath on the opposite side.   According to the signage, we’d walked into Birmingham and then we passed another sign that welcomed us into Worcestershire.   We followed the main road back into Hopwood.

Later in the afternoon we got a text from Pip warning us that there were two stag parties and a hen party aboard three hire boats heading our way and the celebrations had already begun!

The first of these three narrowboats moored up behind us once they’d bounced off our stern as they tried to stop the boat. They apologised for crashing in to us and then dropped their mallet in the canal before attempting to tie up the boat before heading off to the pub. They’d already broken their barge pole as there was only half of it with a splintered end in the fore deck so we’re not sure what they’d been fending off with that.  Thankfully there was no real damage done to our boat.

The second boat passed us by without incident and then the hen party arrived and they moored in front of us, but not before scraping our front end as they came in. Thankfully it was the side that we’ve not yet painted.

It is a little galling that hire boat companies do not seem to concern themselves with how their hirers behave once they’ve set out on their journey as first time hirers are unaware of the potential damage they can cause to both themselves and others. It appears that they are given little training, if any.

Anyway, it is all quiet tonight.  The girls are celebrating quietly on board and the guys moved off after their visit to the pub to go and moor somewhere else.

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