We met up with James & Ali in a carpark next to Rugeley Trent Valley railway station. James paid the parking fee as per the instructions in the phone box and trusted his car to the care of the local farmer for two days.
We walked the short way to the boat and after a reviving cuppa, James, Ali & I headed off on foot to Tesco to stock up our cupboards for the next week and buy all we would need for their visit which included a BBQ feast and a wine box.
As we left Tesco I phoned Storm and he brought the boat down to the bridge to pick us up with our heavy bags.
We had a leisurely cruise towards Fradley Junction. The sun was shining and all was going really well until we arrived at our one and only lock of the day.
We’d noticed a boat following us some distance behind us and as we approached the lock, we’d slowed right down to tick over to pass boats moored either side of the canal and as I steered the boat towards the lock I was busy concentrating on boats ahead, rather than looking back.
I was just pulling in towards the lock landing when I was startled by a boat horn right behind me which made me jump. I glanced back and the boat that had been behind us and which should have still been about 300 yards behind us if he too had slowed to tick-over as he passed moored boats, was instead about to hit us.
An aggressive shout from their helmsman asked if I was going through the locks and if so could I move along the lock landing, I shouted back that we were and that we were already doing so as our boat was not yet stationery.
I stepped off the boat, taking the middle rope with me and once the boat had stopped, I handed the rope to Storm and went with James & Ali to start preparing the lock.
All of our crew thought the man was just rude! The man came to speak to me and he tried to apologise for shouting and he said he hadn’t meant to cause upset, but then he went on to say that he’d encountered another woman earlier in the day who’d gone so slowly he hadn’t been sure whether to ram her or moor up. Whatever, I was one unhappy female skipper and he wasn’t a very nice man!
Anyway we passed through the lock and continued our journey to the top of the locks at Fradley where we moored up and set up our deck chairs on the tow path and were too busy chatting to pay attention to passing boats Next we hear our neighbours, also on the tow path, shouting at a boat to slow down. Surprise, surprise, it’s Mr Rude and our boat is just recovering from a violent rocking motion which when I went to investigate, had caused all our cupboards and drawers to open and had knocked over a mug of water which was dripping onto the floor. I mopped this up, chuntering!
He was obviously a man on a mission and I hope that we never ever meet him again.
Once we’d given Mr Rude time to get away from Fradley altogether, we headed to the well-known Swan pub for a meal. Three wonderful steaks and a mixed grill later, we headed back to the boat for an early night.
Thursday morning surprised us with more warm and sunny weather and once the first rush of boats heading down the locks had cleared, we followed before turning left onto the Coventry Canal.
A steady four mile poodle to Huddlesford Junction where we moored up. We enjoyed a drink in the beer garden of The Plough Inn before returning to the boat to BBQ on the tow path. The BBQ was delicious. We were so busy eating we forgot to take photos. Before heading off, we poured water on our disposable BBQ’s and bagged up all our rubbish leaving no evidence behind.
We stopped for an hour in Hopwas so we could make a Skype call to Summer to wish her Happy Third Birthday. She’d had a fun filled action-packed day which had included a trip to see ‘Finding Dory on a really big TV’, lunch out at ‘Pizza Hunt’ and some amazing presents. The Dolls’ House, that Dandad helped make, was a hit.
The Tame Otter beer garden beckoned and after a quick drink we continued on our way again. The sun disappeared and we were glad that we’d BBQ’d at lunch time. We spent an evening listening to the rain, listening to music and playing games on board.
This morning the weather seemed to announce that James and Ali’s cruise was nearing an end and we cruised through Glascote Locks in the rain. We dropped them off at Anchor Bridge where they’d arranged for a taxi to pick them up to take them to Tamworth Train Station.
After parting hugs we waved them off and returned to the boat to plan our route for the next week. Of the three routes we considered, we opted for the route that means we won’t need to cruise at least six hours a day.
The cloud lifted and we headed off, winded and returned to Fazeley Junction where we turned onto the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Where once Tolson’s Wooll Mill existed, a fitness centre now occupies the site and so we continued on our way, passing a curious gothic style footbridge over the canal before mooring up at Fishers Mill Bridge to enjoy a quiet night out in the countryside where only the sound of birds may disturb us as we’re moored right beside the RSPB’s Middleton Lake.
A very tame heron sat on the bank behind us for most of the afternoon sunning itself.