Friday, 12 July 2013

Yee Hah… International Day

But first some thoughts on Fradley Junction.  It’s one of the few canal locations we’ve previously visited twice when hiring a boat.  The last occasion was actually unplanned as we’d intended to do the Stourport Ring and go through Birmingham.  We changed our minds after an unpleasant experience en-route and detoured through Fradley Junction and down the Coventry Canal. 

Last night we had dinner in The Swan at Fradley.  It’s the third time we’ve eaten there and you would have thought we’d have remembered the lesson from the previous two occasions.  The lower area smelt very musty and neither of us were impressed with the quality of the meal.  Probably a little foolish of us to eat there having previously read all the negative reviews.  Oh well…… No doubt the “Mucky Duck” will survive without our patronage.

Last night the boater opposite us called out to tell us his daughter now lived in Mount Maunganui, NZ and they had been out to visit her before hiring a campervan and touring both main islands.  Then when filling the water tank on the facilities block a couple cycling stopped to tell us their son lives in Perth, Western Australia. 

Jan managed to buy some distilled battery water from the small shop at the CRT facilities whilst the tank filled (slow filler).

The shop in the old canal building.  Waiouru is to the right on the water point.

More former canal company buildings at Fradley

Jan locked Waiouru up through Junction Lock and then walked passed The Swan to the next lock (Middle Lock).

Looking back at the junction

After passing through Middle Lock we found Shadehouse Lock empty and the gates open.  I took a final photo looking back.

When Jan reached the lock she found a lady raising the top paddle.  Remember we were attempting to enter the lock through the lower gates which were open.  Jan had to shout to her to stop what she was doing and lower the paddle.  The poor lady was quite confused.  Her husband was on the lock mooring above with the hire boat and had told her to raise both upper paddles.  Jan tried to explain that what she was doing was attempting to fill the bath by turning on the taps without inserting the plug.  The lady still didn’t understand.  But then they were both from Tasmania.

We then met numerous hire boats heading in the opposite direction.  At the next lock we arrived to find two couples from Texas heading in the opposite direction.  One of the ladies wanted to explain that; unlike us; the hot weather didn’t bother them because they were from Texas where it’s even hotter.  She was a little deflated when Jan mentioned we had spent the last 18 years in South Australia.  The driest city, in the driest state, in the driest inhabited continent on earth!  Still, everyone knows everything is bigger and better in Texas!  Anyway, they were having a great time enjoying themselves on their first trip to the UK.  Later, another boat passed with the crew noticing the flag on the stern of Waiouru and calling out they were from Australia.  It’s been quite an international day!

Some stretches of the canal were really attractive with sunlight pouring through the trees overhanging the still water.

It’s interesting how you can travel in one direction and then not recognise anything in the opposite direction.  However their were a few locations today that were familiar.  The Plum Pudding was one.

On our last journey going in the opposite direction we were exhausted by the time we reached the following location and moored for the night…… and did it turn out to be a noisy night!

I think almost all boaters take a photo of the Armitage Shanks factory churning out those essential vitreous china bathroom seats.

On the other side of Handsacre is “The Narrows”.  A short stretch of canal which was previously a tunnel until the top was taken off it leaving a narrow channel cut through the rock.

The signage instructs boaters to send a crew member ahead to check the way is clear.  We cheated by closely following the boat ahead.

There were no vacant 48 hour moorings at Rugeley and we managed to squeeze in just past the 7 day moorings attaching the stern to the last ring.  We’re out from the bank and may yet have to deploy the folding gangplank.  A subsequent walk to the Rugeley post office has confirmed they will accept Post Restante mail.

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