|New paint job and new livery in a rare moment of sunshine|
And we rejoined it yesterday in weather not too different to that we left behind at the back end of last year. Rain. More rain and then even more rain. But rain didn't quite stop play, it just made it rather less fun.
Not so much for us – after all, we can just hang around and wait for the sun – but certainly for the foreign holidaymakers who'd opted for a week on the English canals in June rather than a sunny bask on the Med.
And we met several of them yesterday – Germans, Danes and Swedes – at Botterham Staircase locks where a bottom gate that leaked more than an MP's press officer was causing chaos all round. We couldn't get through and had to reverse out to let the hireboaters have a try. And they only managed after I'd flushed half the contents of the Staffs&Worcs through with them to keep the lock level up.
After three hours of involuntary voluntary lock-keeping in the pouring rain, I'd got the last through and returned to drip all over Harry's floor.
This morning, after a night of refilling via the weirs and the heavens, the levels were right up and we sailed serenely through; the only boat on the move. Not surprising; it was p***ing down!
From Bottenham it's a quick run to the picturesque Bratch staircase whose complexity demands lockkeepers be on hand, even when it's raining. They were and we sailed up the three locks while the moored boaters were still vainly looking for the sun.
|One bedraggled vole rescued by brolly from a lock|
Anyway, it gave Harrywoman the chance to rescue a waterlogged vole from a lock with her umbrella and to be shown the carving of a ship on one of the ornate bridge piers at Awbridge Lock allegedly done by one of the Napoleonic prisoners of war who helped build it. More here.
|Was this carved by a Napoleonic prisoner of war?|
|They been dredging the length of the S&W over winter|
The Shroppie is quite different to the curling, lock-a-mile early era Brindley designed S&W. It's a Thomas Telford special: straight as you can – cuttings, embankments and the occasional flight of locks. We're liking it. And we'll like it even more if the sun shines.