...have been up and down. Got up early on Sunday morning, 05:00hrs and after packing the final bits and pieces we toddled off up the M5 towards Birmingham. A good journey, two hours in all, and when we arrived at the boatyard, it was closed so we had to wait for them to open. (Should have been 09:00hrs but it was 09:20hrs before there were signs of life). When they opened I went in and asked for the keys to TQ and they couldn't find them. Spent ages looking for them and made some phone enquiries, but to no avail. So I phoned the Carefree engineer and he said they were in the gas locker. Lo and behold there they were together with Willows keys. After loading the boat, checking the diesel, water levels, oil level etc. we made off. Departed Alvechurch at 11:00hrs and when we got to Tardebigge tunnel there was a sign telling us to keep to the left of the tunnel. When we were inside there were some lights in the distance, couldn't make out what it was until we got really close. It was a Santas Grotto and a trip boat was bringing boat loads of kids into the tunnel to see Santa, and it was all very well done. After a gruelling trip, during which the sun did shine, through 30 yes 30 locks we made it to the Queens Head by 17:00hrs and yes it was pitch dark, the last locks done by candle light. No I jest, there are lights on the boat and I operated the locks by torchlight.
Later we went into the Queens Head for a meal, but unfortunately they don't serve food on Sunday evenings. So we just had a drink and came back to the boat and had a buffet style supper. The last time we went in that pub was nearly twenty years ago, and its changed a lot. Its not what I'd call a traditional pubby pub like I remember it, but more of an up market (well almost) too well decorated semi restaurant with Sky Sports on a very large wide screen, and sofas that have become a bit too careworn. All a bit too commercialised for my liking.
Monday, and wer'e up early before first light, couldn't wait to get started and stuck in to the remaining 12 locks to Tibberton. We arrived at the Eagle and Sun bang on lunch time but the pub was closed. Food was being cooked, we could smell it, but the doors were locked and no-one seemed to be there. The time was nearly 13:00hrs and a notice said they open at 12:00hrs. Oh well, they've lost our business, and a few others no doubt too, so we had lunch on the boat instead. By this time they were open - tough. After lunch we headed off through Dunhamstead and its tunnel. Lin was hoovering the carpets as they were in a very dirty state when we took posession, when we went through the tunnel. "Who put the lights out", came the shout from within. Going through Oddingley we spotted a nice spot where we'd like to moor on the way back for Christmas Day, right next to the railway line. It'll be OK, there'll be no trains running that night, so It'll be peaceful. On to Tibberton and we've moored right outside the Bridge Inn. Lets hope its open and we can get fed tonight. Third time lucky maybe? Will keep you posted.
To the end and back again.
2 hours ago