Leaks and how to deal with them

Moored Tuesday at Atherstone.
          Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed a mismatch between location and map – Techno Son-in-Law is currently in mid-Wales, enduring “a rubbish internet signal” so his MapMan services are currently unavailable…   

           It was strangely quiet on Monday morning at Fradley Junction: granted, before 10am it was too early for either gongoozlers at the locks or drinkers at The Swan. The shop beside the pub was open though – and there’s been a transformation in recent years. The emergency grocery stock is still small but the range of canal influenced souvenirs is huge. Upstairs, displayed against white walls and under timber beams, are more pictures and gifts. “The caravan people seem to like cream colours,” explained the lady in charge, as marketing words like ‘footfall’ and ‘commissions’ crept into the conversation. If you’re passing Fradley consider dropping into the shop, pop upstairs to the tea room and from a window table you’ll get a grandstand view of all the action. “Oh, we get people falling in, people not being able to handle the boat, gongoozlers, all sorts,” said the lady.
          Back at Cleddau the Captain was ready to go. But Sniff… sniff!  Around the front deck swirled a hint of gas.
           Detection. Gas was leaking from one of the gas bottle tubes or couplings. The arrangement was made safe and the day’s cruise could be started.
          On a boat of mature age when something (else) needs replacing you think back to how old it might be. Circa 1997 for gas tubes, from the Willowbridge, Bletchley period, was the conclusion… An hour or so along the Coventry Canal lies Streethay Wharf.

While the Captain trawled its well stocked chandlery for a replacement gas tube Boatwif gazed at the underside of a boat up on the wharf. Welding sparks indicated action

at its bow end. Tubes swapped the Captain proudly smirked “And the gasman came to call,” before reeling off a litany of his recent boaty achievements (sourcing and sorting the engine room rainwater leak, installing a temporary radio aerial in the bedroom).
            The Coventry Canal between Fradley and Fazeley twists and turns through rural surroundings,

past the Lichfield Cruising Club,

past Whittington, past the MOD firing range in Hopwas Woods,

past a couple of WW2 pillboxes,

through Hopwas to Fazeley Junction. Here regeneration is much in evidence..

           The blue in the sky, so short-lived, faded away, to be replaced by leaky clouds and steady rain. The Captain juggled with tiller and umbrella (“must keep the engine dry”). In such rainy conditions others proved quite inventive, whether drying clothes

or working on a boat engine

           After Fazeley Junction (no right hand turn to Birmingham for Cleddau)

it was straight on for Tamworth, over the River Tame and along to the two Glascote Locks. “We’re going UPHILL now,” remarked the Captain. “It’s been downhill since we left.” Ahead was a newly painted boat, picked up just two days before at Great Haywood, gingerly being moved to London as a home for its young owners.

On through Tamworth, past quirky gardens and all manner of sodden garden seats, eyes open to spot this intriguing ornament.

Just how did an East German border post come to be sited in a Tamworth garden…?
                   Wednesday. The route is familiar, cruising through the post-industrial coalfield landscape of North Warwickshire:

home of hire boats, private boats and old work boats.
           A nature reserve, a column atop a spoil heap

representing the sun’s conversion of leaves and trees into coal.
           The thought-provoking underside of the M42 bridge

           Polesworth. Other post-industrial places could take lessons from this place: a country park on the site of the Pooley Hall Colliery, poems alongside the towpath

words set in stone to explain the river’s timelessness, 21st century worship

alive and well

in a 1200 year old abbey church

             Onwards, weaving between River Anker and a train line. Horses in fields, snowy white geese in the water,

red poppies on field boundaries.
            There’s a flight of 11 locks at Atherstone

– but easy mooring close to the town between locks 6 and 5.
             First digital job each evening now is to send a position report to nb Tentatrice. Here it is: do not accuse the Captain of unnecessary verbosity!
               Cleddau 271500May14 Atherstone (Callsign, date time group, position – what more do you need? KD)
               Tentatrice is creeping south and east, heading too for Braunston. Have a read, and consider what uses you have for olive oil…
               Tomorrow, towards Hawkesbury Junction (Coventry outskirts).
Total distance to Bedford:  341 miles 
Distance so far: 82 miles
Total number of locks to Bedford:  143 
Locks so far: 44

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