Back home

Back home

After our quiet night in the centre of Birmingham, we had plans for Sunday. Paul was taking Lenny to the Cadbury World experience in Bournville. Both Bruce and I had been before but Paul was happy to go again , so we stayed and looked after the boys.

There is an excellent secure mooring at Bournville, which can only be accessed from the shore via a special key. It’s still known on our boat as a BWB key – cos we is old school innit. BWB stands for British Waterways Board – Canal & River Trust’s predecessors. They were disbanded in 2012. The key is used for access to all kinds of waterways related edifices, such as sanitary stations, water points, refuse collection points etc. This means that the facilities are only used by boaters. Or that’s the intention – although the fact that you get them from Ebay kinda negates that!

Sadly, there was rather a lot of rubbish dumped at the moorings, presumably left by an unscrupulous and lazy boater. Unless one of the locals had gone to the trouble of getting a key cut? Seems unlikely, but you never know. Fly tipping, after all, seems to be on the rise. Whatever – we reported it to CRT,

Paul and Lenny came back laden with chocolate, as you might expect. No complaints here! Lenny had a headache and was coughing a bit, during the evening and had some Paracetamol before bed.

On Monday morning, his cough was worse and it was decided that it might be better if he and Bruce went home a day early. There is no joy in being poorly away for home, so off they went, sadly.

We had a few days to kill before our next guest, my stepmother Lynne, known almost universally as “Nanny Lynne” – her first proper visit. We decided to spend them at Tardebigge, as it is very pleasant there. We could also get a grocery top-up there, too.

It being a Monday (work for Paul), and also a lock-free stretch, I moved us down, back past King’s Norton junction, through Wasts Hill Tunnel (see the video below) and moored for the day near Hopwood.

On Tuesday, with me at the helm again, we made our way down to Tardebigge, passing through the bit where you might recall Ted had a funny five minutes earlier, in the summer. I don’t know if I was l being over sensitive, but it definitely seemed that he was a bit agitated again. I could not, smell, hear or see anything but he clearly could. Maybe Sue’s zombie theory is more than just fancy?

We passed through the Lower Bittell’s reservoir section, still beautiful in Autumn and through Alvechurch – where many of the boats in the hire fleet there were being chamfered up in preparation for next season. And all along the way, we saw very few boats on the move.

And then it was through Tardebigge tunnel and on to our mooring for the next couple of days. I amused myself by practicing my crochet skills and pottering while Paul worked. Soon, it was Thursday (Oct 21st) and time to prepare for Lynne’s arrival. We had done the bulk of the work on Wednesday evening but the outside of the boat needed a spot of sweeping and mopping so that it would look nice for her. It’s a bit of a challenge to keep the outside clean at this time of the year – leaves and mud. Annoying!

She arrived late afternoon and we took Old Nick down through the first lock ready for our descent of the remaining 29 the next morning. We had a pleasant evening catching up – and there was a lot, as we had not seen each other for approaching two years, what with lock down and such.

We were up at 06:30 and away by 07:00. It goes without saying that locking down with three people is much easier than with two and we soon swung into an easy rhythm. Lynne went down to the first lock to set it, although the lock-keeper had seen we were coming down and, whilst he was walking the flight, had opened one of the paddles so that the lock was ready, more or less. Initially, all she needed to do was open the gates ready for us to arrive.

As we arrived, Paul would shut the gate and I would would bring the boat to a stop and then nip off and open one of the top paddles and then nip back and get on to the boat before the level had dropped too far. Paul took care of the towpath side paddles and gates. Meanwhile, Lynne had walked on to the next lock and we’d repeat the process. We met just one boat on our way down.

It was a beautiful morning, luckily, and we all enjoyed the flight, despite the locks being numerous! We finished around 11 am and pulled over for the day to recover from our exertions, more work for Paul, showers and getting ready to go out for dinner at the Queen’s Head, opposite which we were moored.

We had such a lovely evening at the pub. The food and drinks were good and the staff were a delight; friendly, helpful and chatty. I gave them a very good review on Google as they really did make our evening go with a swing.

The next day being Saturday, Paul was able to join us as we made the short passage back to Droitwich Spa Marina. And we persuaded Nanny Lynne – herself a very seasoned hand at the tiller – to have a go at steering Old Nick. It was quite an emotional time for her as she had not set foot on a boat, since my lovely Dad, her husband, had dropped dead on the towpath near Middlewich, some 16 years ago.

She took us through the Astwood flight and it was actually rather nice for both Paul and I to be off the boat together and we had fun with the boys, making them race up and down the towpath. They loved it and so did we.

We eventually arrived at our berth and it really felt like coming home. We saw several familiar faces, who greeted and welcomed us back. Sadly it was also time to for Lynne to go home. and we waved her off and came and sat down to relax.

We had got through all the closures and were back at base. We don’t plan to stay on our berth all winter, but instead we plan to have weekends (or longer?) out and about, including spending some time on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. There is plenty to explore as it’s made up of over a dozen different branches. Who knows – we might even meet the Peaky Blinders? Until next time, then, when we plan to review our first summer aboard Old Nick.

Rainbow over the Marina

5 thoughts on “Back home

  1. Hi both. Glad to hear you have arrived safely back at ‘base’.
    We just wanted to say how much Pauline and I have enjoyed reading about your adventures on Old Nick so far this year. It’s been a little bit of sunshine in a somewhat gloomy year for us. We are counting down the months until our build slot at Ortomarine comes round in Jan 2023 and Pauline finally retires from her career in the NHS and we can start having our own adventures cruising the cut. At least next year we should have the fun of working with Rob and Caroline on the design of the boat which will hopefully make that year seem to move a little more quickly than this one has.
    We would be very interested to hear from you about the design process you went through with Old Nick and anything you might have done that now, with a year of cruising behind you, you think you might have done differently, or things you left out that you wish you had include etc.
    Cheers and best regards, Matt and Pauline Parker.

  2. I have loved following your new life on the canals, you portray a wonderful journey which must make anyone reading it envious of your adventures.
    Enjoy your winter on the Birmingham canals, I am sure there will be more stories during your rest period.
    Nuala x

  3. I’m so glad you had a good cruise – I’ve been following closely since spotting Old Nick in Abingdon and buttonholing Paul on the electrical specifics. The last we saw of you was when Paul helped me bring So Long in above Sandford Lock and our pace has been much slower than yours since.

    I hope you get out a bit in the winter sunshine. It’s glorious at Lower Heyford on the Oxford right now – ideal for a cruise. All best wishes.

    James (and Kelly), nb. So Long

    1. How nice to hear from you. Yes. We plan to get out and about – weather, stoppages and Covid permitting! We love the Oxford. See you again one day, I’m sure. All the best to you both
      Kay & Paul

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