Thursday, 1 January 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Well 2014 didn't end quite as planned and 2015 certainly didn't start as planned.

We had been at Fazeley just opposite Peels Wharf and stayed a day or so longer than planned due to ice. Yesterday it looked as though the ice had disappeared around us so after winding we went back to the junction and turned right on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, we had just got through the bridge then hit ice and there was ice down the canal as far as we could see, so we pulled over into the visitor moorings by the Mill to sit it out for a few hours, I had to get the pole and break the ice so we could get LJ into the side. The forecast was warming up as the day progressed. We had the benefit of a boat passing by in each direction so after lunch we set off again, stopping off for what was supposed to be a quick stop at Fazeley Mill Marina to get a pump out, only to find that the machine was frozen solid, the lady there bought out buckets of steaming water but the ice seemed to be solid in the pipe, it wasn't to be, luckily we weren't in desperate need we just wanted to sort it before heading into Birmingham. So we continued on our way but with the ice seemingly getting thicker and looking like refreezing we decided to call it a day by the ornate bridge near Drayton Manor Park. So that is where we saw in 2015, we had a spectacular view of everyone else's fireworks, we think it was Nuneaton/Coventry way.

James and LJ by the ornate Drayton Manor bridge

Final totals for 2014
570 miles and 390 locks


We had a little rain overnight and the temperatures had risen somewhat so this morning we headed off to tackle the Curdworth flight of 11 locks. We have done this flight a couple of times so I knew the single top and bottom gates would make it slightly easier for me, at least I wouldn't be walking round and round the locks to get gates opened and closed, and lovely countryside views, you just have to ignore the droning M6 towards the top of the flight.

This car made operating the lock slightly inconvenient

LJ in the first lock of 2015
The first three locks were going great, a few gongoozalers were out for a New Years Day stroll, then we got a low pound, I had to let water down from the lock ahead as James and LJ were stranded in the middle of the pound. All OK for the next couple then again low pounds, and because they are short as I was letting water down to help James get through I was draining the next pound so we continued to struggle through until lock 3 when the prop wouldn't turn as James was half way out of the lock, we pulled LJ back into the lock and I went down the weed hatch,  the freezing water soon cooled me down, loads of reeds were wrapped round the prop along with a couple of different ropes and the remains of a few carrier bags, guess it could have been worse as LJ had been scraping the bottom for the last few locks. All back together again James continued onto lock 2 where I was struggling to get the gate to open fully, yet more bloody reeds, James got the long pole and could just about reach to clear them and manage to get the gate open wide enough to enter the lock. We were then at the top lock where there was still a bit of thin ice. We went through Curdworth tunnel, and stopped just short of Minworth as the light was fading fast. So what should have taken us a couple of hours at most took well over four. A very eventful start to the New Year.

The top lock of the flight and the light starting to fade a bit

And finally moored up, this does make it look darker than it actually was

So with the counters reset for 2015 we start with 6.5 miles and 11 locks.

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