And onto the Grand Union.

We had a stopover at Alvechurch and had a wander into the village on Monday.

Alvechurch

Alvechurch

DSC02697the picture above is of the local Dr’s surgery! advertising their flu jabs.

Another midlands town of timber tudor buildingsDSC02698

I bought a few items in the local greengrocer’s, and bought a piece of black pudding in the butchers. I hadn’t any room in the freezer otherwise I may have bought their home made faggots. None of it condusive with low fat eating!

Off again on Tuesday, and we were heading for  Kings Norton junction. This is where we are turning again to be on the North Stratford canal; we were last here at the end of June, so in theory have done a big loop in the past 3 months. We had an uneventful journey until we went through Wast Hill tunnel (the sixth longest navigable tunnel on the canal system); it takes about 30 minutes to get through.

in the tunnel. The light ahead is another boat coming in the opposite direction

in the tunnel. The light ahead is another boat coming in the opposite direction

It is two way working, and we managed to pass 2 boats without touching. The third boat however had other plans and was going to fast; despite the tunnel light and cabin lights on it is still hard to see, we were running along the tunnels rubbing strip when the boat suddenly bumped our bow. He had the cheek to smile and say good morning with no apology.

Exiting Wast Hill tunnel

Exiting Wast Hill tunnel

As we got through a work boat passed us, as they are working on gravelling the towpaths along this route, which makes it better for cyclists and walkers (as long as the cyclists slow down that is). Now back on the outskirts of Birmingham I wanted to visit the Cadbury World attraction, but we had been put off doing this by another boater who had been shot at with an air rifle apparently. I was going to walk the mile to go alone, but local news reported a woman had been mugged on a Birmingham towpath, and also the cadbury tour didnt start till 12.30pm, which would have made it late to move. So we have decided to visit it if we ever pass in a car. I was also going to catch up with Elaine and Ivan whom we met in July (an ex student nurse with me), but they had too much going on, and we decided to give it a miss this time and catch up again when we are around the area in the future.

Wednesday and moving again along the Stratford canal. A mad day as many boats moving in the opposite direction at such a pace that 2 of them pushed us aground! The only one passing sensibly was a hire boat. We made it to Warings green opposite the private moorings there and stayed a couple of nights. We walked on Thursday to Wedges bakery, as our guide map book recommended it. The smell was eminating from the bakery way before we arrived there. I bought a couple of black pudding Scotch eggs, 2 Eccles cakes, and 6 of their signature sausages. These we enjoyed on Friday for dinner (not all the sausages though)., as we were going to have another cruise along negotiating 4 locks and 2 lift bridges, and ending up between locks 5-6 on the Lapworth flight. On the way we got chatting to a couple who we have passed a couple of times; they have a rather smart dutch barge style boat that they have fitted out themselves over the past year. We tell Breakaway to cover her ears when we say we want one like it! Anyway it transpires that she used to live in Welling, Kent a couple of streets away from where we used to live many years ago. Her children were born in West Hill hospital Dartford (I was too), and her parents still live in Orpington. How strange and what a small world it is.

Lapworth locks

Lapworth locks

We set off early on Saturday to negotiate the rest of the locks we needed to do (15 in total). Charlie did the first 9 locks; then we stopped for breakfast; then I did the next 7.,now we are meeting boats coming up the locks. Stopping at the sanitary station for the emptying bit, and finally turning onto the Grand Union canal and closer to our goal.

a hitchhiker

a hitchhiker

at the junction

at the junction

a smart holiday cottage with rounded roof

a smart holiday cottage with rounded roof

onto the Grand Union

onto the Grand Union

DSC02719

We filled up with water after the junction as had been warned that the tap was slow flowing there. And a recommended mooring at Rowington on an embankment is where we have ended up. Ofv again tomorrow with the prospect of the Hatton flight of locks (21 if I remember). We last came along this way 5 years ago on our first ever hire boat holiday, at least this time we can take a more leisurely pace.

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