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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oldbury Locks to Autherley IWA Festival.

Tuesday 19th August.

Top of Oldbury Locks to Windmill End. 5.5 miles and 9 locks.

The plan had been to leave the mooring at 5.30pm to head back down the locks, but the best laid plans always go south it seems. The weather was not that good, it was cold and wet and windy, but we were up and ready to go, but so were others grrrr. It meant that we were at the back of an eight boat convoy. In front of us were N.B’s Temeraire, Tenacious, Gerald No13, Longmead, Clover, Alder, Kyle and then we played the rear gunner. So we did not get away until 6.30am. We were fortunate enough that we did have someone helping us with the locks, but it was slow going.We arrived back down to Oldbury Junction at 7.45am, with the M5 roaring already. At the junction, Hadar clobbered the concrete wall, as she tried to stop. I then walked a long the gunwale to the bow and leapt off onto the towpath, so I could haul the bow around at the junction as the wind was trying to take her the other way. We managed to get her heading in the right direction, but as we approached Whimsy Bridge we had to pull in and moor on a pontoon as there was something on the prop. The something turned out to be electrical wire, clothing, plastic bags, gold braiding and other bits. It took Keith one hour, twenty minutes and three Stanley knife blades to clear the prop. Once we finally got under way N.B’s Patience and The Third Lily had caught us up and over taken us. We soon caught The Third Lily up and she allowed us to pass. We turned off of the Birmingham main line canal at Bradeshall Junction onto the Gower Branch and down the three Brades locks and turned at Albion Junction onto the Wolverhampton Level. The August weather was not improving at all, and for a time it seemed that we would get a soaking. Just as well we have good wet gear. At the Dudley Port Junction we turned right onto the Netherton Tunnel Branch

We followed trail boat Jenny Wren into Netherton Tunnel 3027 yds and into Windmill End where we winded Hadar and moored with Muriel and Jerry on N.B Moonstone. Having chatted to other boaters to see how they fared on their trip, I then went food shopping with Muriel and Jerry; we even managed a drink in the Swan pub in Netherton to quell our thirst. Back at the boat we set up the TV Ariel, as we had been told by Jerry that Britain had won 15 gold medals so far and we were going for another in the woman’s 400 metres, so I had to watch that.We then heard squeals from Muriel and wondered what the problem was. I dashed out onto the stern of the boat and there on the towpath by N.B Moonstone was a rat.This rat was not scared of anyone; it just carried on munching grass why everyone gathered to watch it. It certainly provided some entertainment and a few photographs.
Wednesday the celebrations would get underway for the 150th anniversary of the Netherton Tunnel, the mayor would be arriving with his part etc, so BW were out in force, clearing the rubbish out of the canal, and scrubbing the graffiti off the walls. I wonder how much extra pay these men got paid for making the place spotless?
During the evening we went over to the marquee for the evening entertainment. We joined Elaine and David from N.B Patience for a chat and began listening to the speeches, but they all got a bit boring, so we left and headed back to our boats and an early night.

Wednesday 20th August.

Windmill End to Autherley Junction. 14.5 miles and 25 locks.


We were up with the larks, as the alarm buzzed into life at 4am. Up we got, it was dark outside, but dry.
Paddy decided he was the size of a cat this morning and chose to sleep in Marmites bed.How daft is this dog?
He normally loves to sprawl out, so how on earth he squeezes himself into Marmite’s bed I have no idea. We left him to sleep whilst we headed off at 4.50am into the pitch black of the tunnel. With our headlight blazing we set off along the length of the tunnel with N.B Moonstone following on behind. Hadar’s light the only beam of light in this dark void. Moths scattered as Hadar thumped on her way. 5.30am we were out into the dawn of a brand new day.We made our way to Factory Locks only to find the bottom pound of water arghhhhhh, so before we could do anything Muriel from N.B and I had to let some water down to fill the pound back up. Keith took the opportunity to check the prop and just as well he did, because we had a sports bag and plastic bags around it. With that done we got the three locks done and headed through Coseley Tunnel. Now I know they always say never look up in tunnels or when birds are flying over, but if you do look up in Coseley tunnel, the roof of the tunnel is covered in spider’s webs ewwwww.
We finally made it to Wolverhampton and the flight of twenty one locks.There were a couple of boats in front of us, which did not seem a problem. It was only after we did the first lock we knew were in for a difficult day. At lock to a boat pulled out from the bollards which it had been moored on, onboard was Pam who was doing the flight single handed, so I offered to help her as much as I could. She told me that she had broken her arm and hurt her shoulder 3 months ago after falling off her boat; she told me she was panicking and did not know what to do with the locks. So I got her started down lock 2 and all seemed well. It was not until we reached lock 4, that I could see a situation developing. Pam was becoming short of breath and unsure on what she was doing, she then told me a few years ago she had, had a heart bypass, alarm bells were beginning to ring in my head. At lock 5 with a que now developing behind us Pam was getting very short of breath, so I suggested she moor up and rest for a while, but she was determined to go on. Lock 6 Pam made a mistake which could have emptied the pound, by opening all four paddles whilst in the lock; I was quick enough to spot the situation and shouted for her to drop the paddles, which she did. I was really not happy with the situation and the fact that she had no idea what she was doing, and why she was even doing the trip, she was very confused. Having run back and spoken to Keith, I decided to find the one BW man who was helping with the locks, I explained the situation to him, and he took the decision to pull Pam and her boat over to allow us all through. He suggested to her she made a cup of tea and sat down for a while. He would then get a couple of the BW chaps to take her down. Really Pam should not have been out, she was a danger to herself and clearly not well. She is a really lovely lady and I wish her well. Once we were underway again we were progressing well, with boats coming up and us going down, I was then setting the lock for the gentleman behind us who was also single handed. We eventually arrived down at Autherley Junction at 12.40pm, through the lock we then cruised passed a lot of boats already moored for the IWA festival, we found our mooring way up past the Wolverhampton Boat Club on E8A, and it was a long way from the festival site. We winded before settling on our mooring, which was not great as we could not get into the bank. Just after 3pm we walked down the towpath to get into the site to sign in, but found the towpath fenced off. To get onto the site to sign in we had a 30 minute walk across park land, and through a housing estate to the main road. We eventually found the entrance and the office. Having signed in and picked up our goody bag, we asked if the towpath was going to be open for the festival. We were told No it was remaining shut due to security reasons. So anyone who wanted to come and see us or the boats has at least 30 minute walk. To be honest no one is going to make that effort unless they are a friend. Now no one can arrived at the site by car. Due to the weather conditions they cannot have parking on the site, so now everyone has to park at the Wolverhampton Race Course, where they can catch a bus every 15 minutes. The whole site is in mud and chaos. Keith and I were bitterly disappointed with our mooring and the facilities for visitors to the site. Only the boats nearest the site will get seen, which is no good to us. We wanted to be able to show our new boat off and her engine. So it was with deep regret that we decided to not stay for the festival, there seems very little point. In the morning we will leave for Shackerstone instead. I am sorry for anyone who wishes to come and see us. The situation is out of our control, but we will hopefully be at the Shackerstone Festival at the beginning of September

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi

I have been following your blog for some time. Thanks for a Great Blog.

I have just completed my application for Shackerstone so I hope to see you there.


Maggie

Keith & Jo said...

Hi Maggie.
We look forward to meeting you and I am glad you like the blog, we try to keep it interesting.
Jo

Maureen said...

Ha! Paddy in Marmite's bed was a great shot!

Sorry I haven't been by in a while. I need to catch up!!! Hope you have been well.

Keith & Jo said...

Hi Maureen.
I hope all is well with you?

Paddy is so sweet, but he has the brain of a knat hahaha. He does look cute though.

Adam said...

Hi Jo

I'm afraid you were mis-led about the entraces to the festival. There was a gate to the towpath, and dozens of people were walking up and down looking at all the boats. The site was a bit muddy, but not too bad, and the park and ride system worked very well. It's a shame you weren't there.

Adam

Steve said...

Drove from North Yorkshire to experience a water festival for the first time as we are planning on becoming full-time live-on canal folk. Nightmare on arrival - park & ride bursting at the seams, double deckers fully loaded with faces pushed up against the windows like some ghastly game of sardines. We had no idea so many people would be there, so we drove a short way to Brewood and enjoyed a five mile return walk with dogs along the towpath, a decent pint at the Bridge Inn, met some lovely boat owners who were equally disparaging about the festival and its organisation. The day was totally redeemed we felt the journey very worthwhile. Hope everyone who went had a great time but not sure how such a horde could do so. Steve.

Keith & Jo said...

Hi Adam.
We were well and truly mis-led, but it made no difference about us leaving, as no one was going to walk for half an hour to see us and the boat. That was not the only reason for us leaving. Thank you for posting a reply.
Jo

Keith & Jo said...

Hi Steve.
Not sure I would have enjoyed the bus trip, the walk sounded much nicer hahaha