Monday, 7 July 2014

Baby Sitting with Eva and Tilly.

Wednesday 2nd to Monday 7th July, 2014 at Kingsbury
On Wednesday morning, we cruised the short distance to Fazeley Junction where the Coventry Canal branches off the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Last year we went down the Coventry to Braunston, this year we are going via the Birmingham & Fazeley into the middle of Birmingham where we will pick up the Grand Union down towards Stratford-upon-Avon.
So we were on new territory for the short run down to Fazeley Mill Marina, where we moored up MM for the weekend.
A taxi drove us to Tamworth railway station where we caught a train for London and thence home. R spent Thursday and Friday happily working on Geoff's GT40. On Saturday, we both looked after Eva and Tilly while Elle and Matt went to Sonisphere at Knebworth where Matt was performing with his band. Elle sent us three texts: "They're on!", "OMG!" and "Amazing!"  We gathered it was going well!
The little girls were brilliant and were treated to supper at Pizza Express as a reward. Tilly preferred a snooze to a pizza!

On Sunday, back home, most unusually for us - we watched television!  The Tour de France on ITV, and the British Grand Prix during the advertising breaks (well done Hamilton!), then the men's final at Wimbledon. What a remarkable sporting day it was for England - and the sun shone on all three! It's unlikely that we will see a day like that again.
On Monday, we left home early to catch the train back to Tamworth where we took a taxi for the last leg back to the marina. "Where to?" asked the driver. We looked at each other blankly - oh dear, neither of us could remember the name of the marina where we'd left MM!!! Senior moments, or what!  Much scratching of heads ensued until eventually, M suddenly remembered: "Fazeley Mill", she said. The taxi driver was vastly amused and we had a good chat with him all the way there.
As ever, it was lovely to be back on board. R settled the bill and we set off down the Birmingham & Fazeley towards Birmingham on a sunny afternoon.
It was blissfully quiet in both senses. Peaceful countryside and very few boats moving; we only saw three all day. This is new territory for us as we've not been this way before. We passed a very unusual footbridge with proper "castles" at either end!
We have to get a bit of a move on this week as we have the Meadvale Scout Group arriving at Knowle on Saturday for the weekend - that is 25 miles and 25 locks away (about 17 hours' cruising time).
We travelled the two miles to Curdworth Bottom Lock, which is very attractive, flanked by pretty cottages. A resident of one came out from his garden to help M with the heavy bottom gate of the lock.
Unusually, these locks have single gates top and bottom which, being single, are correspondingly very heavy.
We went through the lock intending to moor just above it on the straight section leading to the next lock."Bollards!" said M suddenly. Sure enough, there were a set of bollards and we moored up on them next to a sign marking the entrance to Kingsbury Water Park.
This is a 600 acre landscaped park containing 30 lakes created from former gravel workings. It is largely a nature reserve but also has a big camping site and an adventure water park. It was a beautifully tranquil place despite the M42 just a short distance away.
We went for a nice walk through the park, although we got a bit lost and ended up on roads rather than paths.
When we got back, we broke an unwritten rule of the boat: "Always to eat at a nicely laid table and never, ever, off our laps." Tonight was the exception as we sat and watched the summary program of the Tour de France third day from Cambridge to London. At least we had our proper lap-trays - the first time that they have been used in three years!
Since Wednesday: 5 miles, 1 lock and 2.8 hours.
Trip: 36 miles, 9 locks and 21.1 hours.

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