Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Is there anybody there?

New paint job and new livery in a rare moment of sunshine
Hello, is there anybody out there? Well if there is, then the blog is back. We've been away rather longer than anticipated but Tug Harry and the crew are finally back on the cut. And back with a smart new paint job courtesy of the skillful Martin Brookes and fine new signwriting by the master, Dave Moore.
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
To be honest, I'm not a great fan of the Staffs&Worcs. It's like the bloke at work you'll go for an occasional pint with but always make excuses if he suggests a second. It's not unpleasant but no more than 'okay'. The long procession of single locks breaks the flow too.
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?
We saw dredging in action too – hooray. As we found out the hard way last year it badly needed it. They've come all the way through from Great Haywood apparently.
They been dredging the length of the S&W over winter
 Tonight we're near Brewood – you call it Brood – five miles up the Shropshire Union. And it's still raining!
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.


  1. Excellent to see you back! And we must have missed passing you by only a week. Saw Star though on our travels.

    1. I see you're down in Josherland now – surprised they let a Big Woolwich in!
      BTW our daughter Olivia is coming to Sheffield to do an Ed Psych PhD in September.

  2. Hiya. Lovely to hear from you. What are your plans. Annie

    1. Heading oop north for now. Manchester then ???

  3. O.K. it rained...and its going to rain some more! Rescuing water vole impressive BUT what about Captain he has best berth and being kept dry and warm :-)

    1. He doesn't just have the best berth, he has a choice of three – two of his own and ours, which is his preferred option of course.

  4. Good to see you back here. Looking forward to plenty more blog posts.

  5. Welcome back, like the paint job😃