Monday 26th September; Fisher’s Mill bridge to Curdworth Top Lock
It’s nice and quiet at this spot, the road being too far away to be a nuisance – so quiet that we didn’t wake up till well after 8, though Dave noted at some point during the night that it was raining. It was still raining at 10.30, though not terribly hard, but we thought we may as well get going. So, fully togged up in our wet weather gear, we started the Curdworth flight. As I emptied the lock I noticed an unusually parked vehicle; I have never seen a no parking sign on a lock gate before.
The car was handily placed, as if I’d had trouble opening the gate I could have put my feet on the bumper to push. But it was closing the gate that was the trouble – I had to get Dave up to help me close it, which was unfortunate as he has badly bruised ribs (from playing football) and though the gate wasn’t a problem for him, getting back onto the boat was a very uncomfortable business! Luckily the rest of the flight was fine and I was fine on my own. There is another non-functioning swivel bridge here – long past its operational best, and even it was in working condition there was nowhere to go.
We had wondered about stopping at the Dog and Doublet to wait for the rain to stop (having no idea of the forecast) but opted to complete the flight as we were wet already and dressed for the weather. At the lock above the pub we met coal boat Emu and used the opportunity to get a bag of Supertherm.
At the next lock the boat coming down had had a man overboard. Now showered and dry, he was delighted that his cap, which he thought had sunk, had found its way into the lock where I hooked it out with my windlass. All fine and dandy, till he left the lock – he opened the throttle right up and roared past Chuffed without a backward glance. Dave had tied up with the centre rope, as you do, but the passing boat caused such violent rocking that a basket was knocked off a shelf inside. We didn’t think they had had their boat long – apart from bad manners they didn’t know which canal they were on or where Fazeley Junction was which seemed a bit strange as it was only a couple of hours away.
Several interesting old boats were coming down the flight; many had been at the Pelsall Common festival, and one at Park Head. Very nice to see. At one lock is this sign;
It’s not as peaceful as it looks as the M42 isn’t far away, but with the view through the trees you get the point. You can just see the remains of someone’s tub of petunias which had been carefully placed at the base of the sign – RIP peace and quiet, or RIP HS2?
The Curdworth locks suffer from the proximity of the M42 and M6 Toll bridge, but efforts have been made to keep them looking pretty with a painted lock number and a flower bed at each lock.
At the top lock, as it was still raining, we decided to go on the short distance through Curdworth Tunnel to the village. Then Dave put the boat into gear but it wouldn’t move at more than snail’s pace…. Dave quickly diagnosed a broken throttle cable, so we crept out and moored on the handy piling past the lock moorings as the rain got even heavier.
We had a belated lunch – beans on toast as we were rather hungry by now – and watched the rain. A quick check of the forecast revealed that it wasn’t going to stop for at least a couple of hours, so Dave mended the broken firebrick and fitted a new blanking plate to the back of the fire. The old one had fallen off last winter and though Dave replaced it, a bit had come off when I cleaned the flue. When the rain finally stopped, he went out to replace the throttle cable - following the recommendation of the RCR man who replaced our broken gear cable a couple of years ago, we have always carried a spare. Meanwhile I rubbed down the rusty bits on the outside of the stove, including the back of the flue which felt a bit rough; I am pretty sure there are no holes.
Dave had done a bit of online research, as he had not done this before, but it is a fiddly job, especially the bit that attaches to the engine, and the light faded before he could complete the job.
We lit the fire tonight, partly to cure the fire cement but also to dry out a bit as everything felt damp after the wet day. It draws much better than it did last winter, possibly due to the lovely clean flue but more likely because the new chimney is a couple of inches taller than the old one and doesn't have any rust holes.
3 and a half miles, 11 locks