Curiosities en route to Fradley

Hopwas to King’s Bromley: 10½ miles, 3 locks
             So which was the pub of choice in Hopwas last night?  A waterways guide book (admittedly quite an old edition) recommended The Red Lion for good food. That became first choice but close up the slightly seedy exterior and the loud juke book noise was a deterrent.  Instead patronage was given to The Tame Otter, which was busy, welcoming and, despite bookings, could offer tables both inside or out.
             The canal weaves on through the village, past two gardens where in each a hammock swung invitingly between trees, under Hopwas School Bridge, past the little primary school and out into woodland.  Beside a bridge is a pillbox,

a leftover from WW2 presumably.  Did Dad’s Army mount their guard this far north?  Then the canal continues through farmland towards the village of Whittington. Here modern housing backs onto the canal and the gardens, though not large, are all immaculately kept. The boat was moored by a bridge for a shopping interlude. In a flower bed – and elsewhere in the garden – are all sorts of ornaments.

Maybe it’s the home for retired garden gnomes… The lane over the bridge is planted and maintained by local residents. Now this is a variation on the “There’s no such thing as a poo fairy” notice.

           It took about ten minutes to reach the village centre and there today a market was under way by the village green.

          On the western edge of the village there are some curious extensions to properties

while newer housing stock seems disproportionately tall on small plots of land.

           You get used to passing other narrow boats and old working boats and fibre glass boats – but it is rare to see a raft afloat on a canal…

           Nearer Fradley there was another possible kitsch display – wall mounted plates on a park home.

And is this garden display sweet?

 Or maybe twee…?
           Two boats passed deserve special mention today: more than a decade ago, during Cleddau’s Kennet and Avon Canal period, there were often sightings of this (then) new boat,

built by Reading Marine. Just loved the sign-writing on this boat.  A second boat name brought a smile

– how about this?       
               Fradley Junction was reached at about 1pm. It’s where the Trent and Mersey Canal crosses in its east-west direction and the Coventry meets it from the south.  Here seems to be the absolutely slowest water point tap yet met. The nearly 90 minutes it took to fill the water tank makes Marple’s tap a positive power jet! During the water-filling process two boats passed that would know Marple only too well, fellow Macc Canal moorers, Kevin on Cromford and nb Natasha.  There are two water points within twenty feet of each other: another “curiosity” was the arrival and mooring on the second water point of another boat.

Its crew disembarked, locked up and left in the direction of the pub… no crew, no hose pipe, blatant disregard of the needs of other boaters and of waterway regulations displayed on the sign.
                Passing through Fradley in any direction can be a slow business: three immediate locks to the east, two to the west. Expect to queue… the C&RT volunteers on Wednesday at Atherstone had all talked about doing boat traffic control duties here. No waiting here for Cleddau today

– all locks prepared and worked by other boaters, what a surprise!

              Blustery gusts, spots of rain – time to moor up a mile or so later at King’s Bromley…

Tomorrow: towards  Great Haywood Junction

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