Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sun 20th July Polesworth to Armitage (as in Shanks?)

Another lateish start and lateish finish - a shame, as I do like early mornings on the canal - thankfully evenings can be just as pretty, and I'm amazed that everyone seems to be moored up by six, mostly, anyway.

Tamworth was fairly long and tedious (as were the indecisive showers), lots of bog standard houses backing on to the canal - nice for them, obviously. The new flats alongside the two Glascote locks are built on the site, of the Reliant car factory, I was told by an oldish guy, who used to make deliveries to Brentford in his working days. A little further on, just before the Tame viaduct, I passed Andrew Denny on Granny Buttons, optimistically in shorts and t-shirt whilst I was still in wet weather gear after the morning's rain. On up through the Coventry canal (or was it Birmingham & Fazeley - there's a certain amount of identity crisis around here), stopping off in Whittington for food at the co-op, then passing Streethay boatyward without anyone suggesting I stretch my boat, despite their reputation.

All I remember about Hopwas (great name) was a line of shiny canal boats all occupied by people doing jigsaws. Whether this is or isn't representive of the place, I'm not sure.

Somewhere in a line of moored boats was this one - a recurring nightmare for us all:

Fradley Junction took me on to the Trent & Mersey canal - still an 'old' single lock canal - and a very bizzare experience. There's three locks going up out of the junction, and a bit of a queue, especially by the top one. I was third, and helped two hire boats up and one down (one of the hirers attempted to sink their boat by opening the gate paddles on to the bow, but confounded by the fact that it was a 'Canaltime' one with no front deck). As I was finally working my own boat through (another hire boat waiting behind) an old guy who had been hanging around started issuing orders to the kids from the hire boat. 'Sorry mate, it's my boat in the lock' I said, ansd which point he turned on me, told me I was a 'very selfish man' and how I was holding 'everyone' up. I couldn't quite believe this, especially when he then warned me not to go too fast past his boat, which had been sitting moored above the lock showing no inclinations of wanting to come down at any point. I'm 'selfish', and yet worked through three other boats, and he'd helped nobody.

I suppose my point is that people on the canals are generally so great, that behaviour which might not get a second glance in a city is completely out of place here. He's the kind of guy who isn't going to see anyone's viewpoint but his own, he's got a right to enjoy the canals just as much as, say, the Daily Mail has to exist or Westlife have to make records, sadly - but it's the old liberal conundrum. I just wish he chose to enjoy canals 'his' way somewhere else.

More generally, I'm finding I'm surprised how many people don't have clear in their mind the concept that the crew of the boat in the lock are in control, say when paddles are raised etc (and which ones as well) etc. I suspect this is more crystallised for single handed boaters than others (who won't ncessarily see what's important to us and what isn't), but it's still a fairly fundamental rule in my book, even for hire boats - who I'm trying very hard not to get bigotted about. ;-)

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