Tuesday, 20 August 2013

It must now start getting easier?

After looking at our mooring and the location of Willenhall Post Office the best walking route appeared to be up the towpath of the BCN Main Line to the junction with the Wyrley & Essington Canal before heading east on Willenhall Road (A454). 
I anticipated the route would NOT involve any meetings with stinging nettles and took the brave decision to wear shorts.  This provided to be a valid assessment as the BCN towpath was in good condition.
The recorded gps route is in purple.
The towpath walk from Autherley Junction to Wolverhampton was very pleasant but as I headed east the scenery became the usual light industry and suburbia.
The start of the 21 locks of the BCN Main Line
The second lock was being repaired by CRT contractors following recent flooding done by some of the local vanadals.  There was a Black Prince Hire Boat in the 3rd lock and I queried whether they had done the full 21 locks that morning.  Apparently they had moored for the night in the pound above the lock.  Two locks further up I found the lock top gate open and the the pound above looked like this…..
Most of the remaining locks in the flight also had their top gates open.  One top gate was actually closed but the paddles had been left up.
I was closing the top gates as I walked up the towpath but without a windlass couldn’t do much about the paddles.
Another mostly empty pound
Water was pouring out from a partially closed bottom paddle.
I don’t believe this was done by the Black Prince boat as they were going down and would have needed to close the top gates to empty the locks.  It’s more likely to have been a lazy boater going up the flight or the local vandals.
Not all the pounds were empty and this particular scene caught my eye because it had both the rail bridge and the canal.  The old and the new transport modes!
I arrived at the top lock to find a boat had just exited it and I was able to advise the crew of the condition of the flight and the need to ensure they allowed plenty of water down.  Also waiting at the top lock was a hotel boat & butty.  They too were advised of the problem.  Interestingly I saw both crews two thirds the way down the flight on my return.
The walk to the Willenhall Post Office was uneventful except to comment that I passed two other post office’s en-route.  Unfortunately neither collected biometric data! Sad smile  I arrived at the PO to find a crowd milling around the closed door on which a notice had been pinned advising that “Due to a power outage we are closed whilst waiting for an engineer”   Sad smileSad smileSad smile……..
This visa business has more twists and turns than a Le Carre novel!  By now I was rather sweaty, the sun had disappeared and the wind had come up.  Bugger!  Once I could have handled the extremes of weather but the body has aged and now objects.  Walking around kept me slightly warm, or kept the sweat warm but I needed a better solution.  There was a large Morrison’s two blocks away and I decided to treat myself to a cheap fleece (I’ve been saving for the last 48 years so why not do some spending!).  Walking down the clothing isles it became apparent all I could buy were socks and Y fronts.  Not much help!  But they had a cafe where I was able to warm myself and allow the sweaty T-shirt to dry on my back.  I gave the engineer one hour and then wandered back to the post office to find it open.  Joining a long queue I eventually arrived at the teller and asked for my post restante letter.  Bit of a puzzled look from the teller and she went off to discuss my request with a colleague before disappearing out the back.  Eventually she returned with the letter <success>. I was asked “Could she do anything else for me?”  “Not yet,  I have to open the letter!”  Inside was a form from the UKBA with a barcode on it.  I re-joined the queue and eventually arrived in front of the same teller.  After showing her the form I was directed to the small photo booth where my photo was taken along with digital fingerprints of both hands.  I’ve only had my fingerprints taken twice in my life.  Both times were for the UKBA!  I was then relieved of £20.  Hopefully this is the last payment in pursuit of the elusive visa.  Then the teller spoilt my day by informing me the UKBA would send me a letter within the next two weeks.   Where the hell will that go……. We don’t have an address!   Bet the sweet little elderly lady in Heathrow is going to get another letter addressed to me.  Sad smile  More post restante mail.
The walk back to Waiouru was uneventful apart from noticing there was a CRT lock keeper at the top of the flight attempting to manage the passage of boats down whilst simultaneously getting more water into the flight.
Margaret was sitting on the stern of nb Kelly-Louise and could see me walking towards her in the distance, she indicated to me I should hurry up and start running……. so I did!  Silly old bugger! Smile    The walk was only 18km but with no real hills it wasn’t that strenuous.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent rubbing down the damaged parts of the handrails and giving them the first topcoat of paint.  Jan has suggested I might like to walk to the local Morrison’s supermarket in the early evening and buy some of the heavy items she wasn’t able to collect in the morning.

1 comment :

Alf said...

Most of those paddles can be lowered (NOT dropped) by twisting the gear by hand, releasing the catch, and by keeping a grip on the spindle allowing the paddle to lower itself.