Captains Log Days 4-5
No blog yesterday due to a) no signal & b) being exhausted!
Day 4 started from outside the Moorings in Leamington (who didn't know how to turn the speakers off outside their pub!!) heading towards the monstrous 23 lock flight at Hatton. We had some trepidation about these locks, hoping that we would meet up with another boat to traverse the ascent. We were not that lucky unfortunately, having not seen a soul in either direction all morning. We set off alone working as a team, rotating roles as we went. A playlist of 3 hours 20 minutes was started on the tune machine and our goal was to finish before the music ran out. We decided to split the locks on half with myself steering through the first 13 & David taking the helm for the last 10. We were joined by a great number of gongoozlers during our trip and it was a wide and varied international crowd too! We met 3 generations of American ladies here for a family wedding, an older couple from Australia and some New Zealanders too! Now the annoying thing about Hatton locks (apart from the 3 miles 23 locks!) is that there is a pub, the Hatton Arms, at around the 5 locks to go mark. After all that graft and grunt to get us through the locks we decided to finish then sink a well earned light ale. On arrival at the exit of the top lock we discovered that to make our desired destination of Solihull, we only had time for a quick ice cream and then off!
We met a couple at Knowle locks (she a kiwi he an Irishman) out on a day boat. We ascended the locks together to assist them and persuade them that a boating holiday is the best holiday!! A short stop at a pump out station and we motored on to Catherine-de-Barnes and then on to the Lazy Cow in Solihull for muchos tasty steaks!!
This morning the unthinkable happened!!! We had a lie in!!! The crew rose at gone 8 and a leisurely breakfast was taken. We pushed off at 10ish heading from the beauteous country sides of Solihull into the sprawling suburbs of Birmingham. Now this was the part that David was looking forward to the most. He's a funny chap in the fact that countryside doesn't excite him yet boating passed factories construction sites and even energy recycling plants really is his thing (odd I know but hey we all like different things!).
The waterways of the Birmingham Canal Network suddenly became very "intimate and cosy". Locks where we had to raise the fenders or risk getting wedged, lots of twisty turny bits and even a tunnel so narrow that (because I forgot to move or from its position on the aft deck) the admirals mug stand was unfortunately sacrificed to the waterways gods (sorry again pops!!).
The journey onwards into the city centre was a trek up some of the narrowest locks that took us past the base of the BT Tower and up into Cambrian Wharf. We spoke with some youngsters out with their grandparents, explaining how the locks worked. One of the young boys asked his gran if he could have a narrow boat for Christmas!!
We chugged gently through Brindley Place, Gas Street Basin and on to the Mailbox to perform a manoeuvre we'd watched many a boater make a hash of before, a perfect wind! Manoeuvre completed we moored up in central Birmingham, a spot I never thought I'd ever have the chance to take a boat. In the words of a wise and handsome man, "what a glorious days boating"!
Oh and the pork pie turned up!!