06 October 2012

(19) UK - Shirley - Avon Canal - Narrow Boat Trip

I woke up to the sound of James banging and crashed like a hippo and wondered what on earth was happening but it felt too cold to get up!
I hollered but he did not hear me - when he eventually came to the cabin it was to tell me that he woke up to find the boat adrift in the middle of the canal again with one mooring rope totally off and the other just about off as well. So armed with the long pole, he pushed and pushed until he got alongside again! Crazy stuff - this boat must have a wish to escape somewhere! As this is our 2nd trip and the ropes were tied around two bollards, it remains a mystery as to how this one came right off the bollard. "Castaway" seems a very apt name for this monkey of a narrow boat!
We took a walk to check out the drawbridge workings again and then got talking to the Hotel Boat moored up ahead. They have 8 passengers on board from all over - Australia, New Zealand, UK. Apparently, the food on board is excellent - Beef Wellington last night plus divine strawberry cheese cake! They seem a jolly bunch and don't have any stress in managing locks or moorings!  It looks like a railway carriage - passage on the side and cabins on the other. Perhaps bunk beds? Didn't ask though.

Last night our "neighbours" complained about our engine running at about 17.45 hrs - we switched off to accommodate them but everybody says we should just have said "tough!" For those who don't know one has to run the engines for at least 5 hours a day to charge the batteries for the evening. As we were downloading photos, charging cell phones and camera batteries, the engine really needed to stay on for awhile. The rule is no engine between 20.00 hrs and 08.00 hrs. So we were within our rights - maybe this couple went to bed at 18.00 hrs?

The key to work the drawbridge did not want to turn so James had to dash over, managed to get the key turned and then I could press the "open bridge" button. Closing the bridge was OK but then I could not get the key out! Pathetic. the long and short of this was James again having to dash over to assist. Weak wrists and a total technical nightmare - that's me!
The tow path beckoned so off I set allowing James to enjoy his ride on the canal in peace. The houses on canal side are very posh in this area from Shirley and the tow path is very pretty with many trees, ferns and greenery. The rain overnight made the path very muddy and this eventually beat me as I could not get through without risking a fall in the mud. This did not appeal as muddy shoes and a muddy jacket which could not be cleaned, did not appeal if I fell on my bum!
We passed a huge block of apartments where a lady as feeding the ducks. The ducks obviously know this happens daily as they suddenly appeared from nowhere to jump up on the bank and get stuck into the bread offerings. Every time I spoke to a duck ( this happens to people walking a quiet towpath!) it came swimming up expecting some food offerings and I felt really bad being empty handed.
There are a number of canal boats in permanent private moorings which slows the boat down as one has to "Go Slow" The wind caught the boat just as a moored craft appeared so there was nearly a collision! Thankfully, poles and hooks come in handy in these situations.
We spotted the Hotel Boats moored near Hockley Heath so we managed to moor one boat behind them.
Lunch break then off to explore.

After lunch we headed off on foot to see the Lapworth Locks - 14 locks going downhill and an hour's walk from where we are moored. The Lapworth Flight is not as impressive as the Foxton Locks but still interesting to see nevertheless and we saw a few boats going both downwards and upwards. We found some fridge magnets in the Canal Boat Shop and the lady there kindly pointed out the way to the pub for a loo stop. Go in the back way, she said and the toilets are right there. Nobody will know. Well, with my luck a staff member was coming out with a bag of refuse and gave me a rather dirty look! Tough! If my friend, Mrs P can walk into the table Bay Hotel in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town just to use their loo's, then I think the Roof Inn stands no chance.

The weather forecast this morning said sunshine and showers - we have just experienced both at the SAME time. The Brits certainly aim to get the forecasts correct.
The sad news currently is the abduction of the little 5 year old in Machynlleth in Wales - we stayed in the area a few years ago and did all our grocery shopping in this charming village. The world truly has some very sick people these days.
The Hotel Boat is moored just below us but they have been out all day on an excursion so there is nobody in sight. Our pub tonight is the Wharf Tavern which looks very run down but it's within a few yards and there is nothing else within a short walk. We walked into the village and the convenience store did not even have yoghurt - very sad.
Supper was enjoyed at the Wharf Inn - a very run down looking pub on the canal but the food was good! Chicken Korma and Cheese Burger plus the most delicious Chocolate Fudge Cake - the best to date. The Brits certainly appear to make great choc fudge cake!
It gets dark quite early now that we are into October so we are now safely back on board. The Hotel Boat has everybody tucking into their dinners - unfortunately, we could not see what they were eating but perhaps we will hear their menu tomorrow before they set off for the day.
Night everybody.

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