Friday 9 September

Yesterday we had a bit of a dawdle morning doing admin and reading and in the afternoon we walked along the towpath to Wedges Bakery at Bridge 20.  Sadly we were disappointed with our purchases this time.  When we first visited in 2010 the scale of the operation was much smaller, and in our opinion much better.  Their custard sides might be huge, but they were tasteless and their pork pies far too salty.

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Anyone who has followed our travels since 2010 will not be surprised to learn that we’ve spotted more of Brunel’s wide gauge railway being used as mile post markers.  We spotted this just beside Bridge 25 at Hockley Heath.

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In the evening we got changed into our glad rags and headed out to meet Annis and Dennis who picked us up and took us back to The Boot for an excellent meal and a lovely evening that passed far too quickly.

They dropped us back to the boat with promises that we would see each other again soon.

This morning we left Hockley Heath and  pootled slowly towards Birmingham, taking care past many of the moored boats along the way.

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Dickens Heath, a rather pretentious canal side village, looms large and out of character just before the village of Shirley where at the  lift bridge  I was accosted by four policeman brandishing  ID and asking if we’d passed a certain boat.   We hadn’t!

At the guillotine lock at the end of the Stratford Canal we ran aground – we hope that CRT will dredge here soon.

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After poling our way through the lock, we turned right towards Birmingham, resisting the temptation to call in at Bourneville for chocolate rations, and carried on to Selly Oak where we stopped at Sainsburys to stock up with groceries as its been more than a week since we did a serious shop.    We delayed shopping for  twenty minutes while we listed to the Archers episode that we had missed last night.   Far too gripping a story line to wait until Sunday’s omnibus!

We arrived into Birmingham just as the wind got up and we really struggled to moor.   At one point we had four people hanging onto our centre rope to try to prevent the wind pushing the boat across the canal.  Once securely tied up we filled with water before moving and mooring up on the first two day gap  we came across.   The towpath here is quite busy and I think we’ll look for somewhere slightly quieter in the morning.

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