Postscript to Atherstone

         Minds were set that a morning wander into Atherstone was to happen on Wednesday. Why let mud and puddles interfere with a plan?

How many shops can you legitimately present yourself in when your entry brings a deluge to the floor…? The Captain, as if embarrassed by the large amount of water he was depositing on the floor of a pharmacy, backed out and took cover in a hardware store.

Imagine if you can the sound as rain pounded onto and into so many plastic receptacles…
          Atherstone has a long street (usefully named Long Street) but today in the downpour the far end was uninspected. Last year there was chance to see the pretty market square
.
A new find was a curious art installation outside the Co-op

Atherstone, town of hat and felt-makers, has long had a Shrove Tuesday tradition of playing the Atherstone Ball Game.

Read more about it here . Atherstone as a Booktown was news too, though not sure whether that initiative is still under way…
           Back at the boat it was time to move on – up 5 more locks and then onwards towards Nuneaton, Bedworth and Hawkesbury Junction. At the top of the locks is a depressing sight

– but who has the funds to restore or to demolish such a building…
            Sights along this canal are fairly familiar (allotments,

Hartshill Yard,

the spoil heap near Bedworth,

the mannequins at Charity Dock)

and the smells too. Close to Hartshill is a bone factory, the whiff of which certainly floats across the towpath hedge. But look at this building,

a transformation from the closed down pub being worked on last year. 
           On canals well travelled memories and associations jostle in the brain. The Tame Aqueduct (Monday) – that’s where there was a broken fan belt incident last year. Atherstone Top Lock – that’s where a huge hailstorm some years ago left boaters bruised, cowering and incapable of action. Hawkesbury Junction – there’s been at least one very embarrassing moment on that difficult turn.  But places bring memories of folk too.  A friend has emailed today that she remembers Reliant Robins being built at Fazeley in 1980; another friend has close family links with Atherstone and Nuneaton; a colleague from 25 years ago often spoke of Bedworth and North Warwickshire. Only a few miles from here on the Coventry Arm are the Cash’s Hundreds Houses, distinctive terraced weavers’ housing. Unearthed in the on-board sewing box a few days ago was a small pack of woven Cash’s name tapes,

redundant now – since schooldays for Cal Son and the Cheshire Mum are long in the past!
            Hawkesbury Junction, distinctive with its engine house,

offers a straight ahead for Coventry Basin or a sharp left and another left for the North Oxford Canal.

So that is where Cleddau is now moored, her crew warming up and drying out, dress code for the day having been thick boots, over-trousers, gaiters, waterproof jackets, gloves and mountain caps – honest!
           Tomorrow – towards Rugby.

Total distance to Bedford:  341 miles
Distance so far: 93 miles

Total number of locks to Bedford:  143
Locks so far: 50

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