Friday, 16 July 2010

We're on the move again

I crossed my fingers, touched wood, twisted the ignition key and fired the engine for the first time in five days.It burst instantly into life, settled down and thumped away steadily. After a few minutes running, the water level was still the same, the oil was correct and so we decided to venture gingerly out of Caggy's Yard and be on our way.
We said a slightly sad cheerio to Ralph (right) and 'Mrs Ralph' – the proprietors of this loveably ramshackle boatyard and two of the most friendly and helpful people we've met on our travels -- and promptly got weeded up in the mouth of the yard.

It was the first of a few trips down the weedhatch as we headed away from Tipton towards the Wolverhampton 21 lock flight that would take us down onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal.
Wolverhampton is like so many Midland towns we've canalled through - a mix of scruffy industry scratching a living amid miles of dereliction while trying to fend off the encroaching warehouse sheds in their bland ubiquity.
We hit the top of the 21 locks at 3 pm and they closed at 6pm so there was no time for hanging around – interesting urban architecture it may be but it's no place to spend the night.
Derelict steelworks in Wolverhampton

All the locks have what used to be called 'handcuff' or 'anti-vandal'locks. They've now been euphemistically re-christened 'water conservation locks'. We prefer to call them 'scrote locks'.
At 5.55pm we exited the flight and turned south on the S&W towards Stourport. Tonight we're moored on a peaceful towpath in a quiet village. In a curious way we rather miss the homely scruffiness of Tipton; the lads fishing on the canal; the pub; the shopping parade with its lines of boarded up frontages. It wasn't much but it had been home for nearly a week - and a friendly home at that. Staffs & Worcs Canal - suddenly we're in rural tranquility

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