After running out of gas… ffs.. we set of early this morning, not only to get through Birmingham to find a safe place to moor up, but to get closer to the marina in Fazeley where we can get a full tank of diesel and get two more gas bottles..
Welcome to Birmingham.. the town of graffiti (sorry.. artistic tagging with spray cans), clogged up litter filled canals and not very welcoming locations. I’m sure its beautiful and safe once you get into the centre of the city.. but on the outskirts, which is where we travelling through.. not very welcoming, and certainly not somewhere I am stopping for the night – Were moving, and staying moving (even if it gets dark.. ) until we find somewhere with other boats moored up. There is safety in numbers, and a boat on its own is an easy target.. certainly if its in a city!
Lock 1 of 14.. entering the lock.. and stop.. boats jammed solid between the lock walls.. Looked and the side fenders were jamming the boat in the lock – so this is a good start. After some heavy reversing and rocking of the boat to free them (without having to cut them free as I don’t want to lose another one!) were back out again.. so its up with the fenders for the rest of the day as these locks seem to be narrower than the rest of the network.. I’m sure that’s going to do my blacking and the paintwork a world of good 🙁
There’s also a notice on the lock about the conservative party conference this coming weekend, and that there will be navigation restrictions, and boats may be subject to stop-and-search, or simply not allowed anywhere near the place.. so its a good thing were moving through this today.. and not Saturday as originally planned! (perhaps that’s why there are no boats.. but I doubt it!)
Three shopping trolleys, 2 trees and several bin liners of rubbish later.. we arrived at lock 4 to find CRT on site and that the lock was out of commission.. thankfully, they said that it was just a broken beam on the gate that they were shoring up, and the delay would only be half an hour.. so thankfully were not forced to overnight here!
As they promised, half an hour later the lock gate was fixed and operational again and we were moving once more. It’s amazing what several miles can do for the feel of a location.. Right turn at Bordersley Junction.. stopped at the water point.. no water as it was broken (no surprise there!).. past StarCity (which provide 2 spots for mooring when visiting them – none occupied).. right turn at Salford Junction.. still nowhere suitable to stop.. onward we go..
Half way through the 14 locks, we had to stop to un-foul the propeller.. an old rag and 4 feet of steel wire wrapped round the prop shaft.. no wonder we were struggling to move though this litter filled soup!
Minworth top lock – another water point.. this one was working, so we part-filled the tank a little to give us some more to last the days washing machine and shower needs – as there are more water points further up the canal that we can use to fill the tank before we stop at Fazeley for a week or two..
Eventually we got though to Curdworth, which to be honest, was my planned stopping point from this morning.. 11 hours, 14 locks, 15.7 miles, 2 boats seen moving & not a single one anywhere moored within that 15 mile stretch.. ( I lie.. there was one.. a residential on a private mooring.. with its windows boarded up so stones would not break the glass.. and using chains and padlocks to tie it up to the bank – not ropes – yea – not surprised as to why… ).. even though there were at least 8 “suitable” mooring spots (rings, bollards, good banks – just bad locations!) until Curdworth..
Eventually we got out of the built up area, into canals meandering through fields, hedgerows and bridges with no graffiti (sorry… “local youth art”.. ) and arrived just south of Curdworth.. where we got moored in a spot between 6 other boats.. the only boats we had seen moored towpath side since the other side of Birmingham.. in a gap that was just large enough for us – so this will do us for tonight, which the cats agree to as they have been banging on the bedroom door to get out for the last hour… time to finish of the last washing machine run, and use the microwave for a coffee and some soup.. as we still have no gas for the kettle or any oven/hob cooking..