Should have stuck to the GU

What can I say about yesterday? It started so brightly but ended as a bit of an angst fest…for ridiculous reasons really as it’s not exactly as if we’re on the high seas here, no mild peril involved. It’s just that since acquiring Henry a few years ago, another boat whose proportions underwater are quite generous, and who only has access from the stern to boot, I have developed high anxiety about getting moored up. It is strange and I do worry about why I get worried, and I do try and counsel myself against it, but still the anxiety lingers. But let me come back to the evening after having talked about the morning.

And off we go again!

Lapworth was a delight, an easy ascent in glorious sunshine and thanks to the phalanx of towpath walkers I was able to politely pressgang a few into closing top gates for me. Yes, I had to ask, when so often people are all too willing to set to and lend a hand. And it struck me as we progressed upwards that I’d rarely witnessed so little engagement from the public – there was no obvious interest in the canal, the locks, the boat, us, and that is so unusual for a popular lock flight. As we were the only boat around you would have thought we’d have been a magnet for questions, I even had my happy face on…maybe that was the problem!

More new territory

After an uphill morning the afternoon went steadily downhill. I don’t think I have ever really clicked with the North Stratford, probably a legacy from one of my trips with dad when we came through on a miserable day and the cut looked like a midden, all dead dogs and discarded divans, the locals obviously content to crap on their own doorstep. There are not many things that elicit massively strong feelings in my generally equanimitous disposition but flytipping and litter get me off the scale. So we were already in negative territory, and we plunged further when we realized the level was off by about six inches and things all got porridgey. And of course it started my mooring alarm bells ringing, which quickly turned to a loud clanging when we tried to do a doggie pit stop. No chance and so began a three mile crawl with repeated attempts to get in to the side, my anxiety levels creeping steadily up, not helped at all by the fact that the HR2 decided to have an absolute smoke-a-thon in the heat, adding to its oil dripping woes. I really should have taken a leaf out of the dogs’ book as they weren’t bothered in the slightest and just kept snoozing. Eventually we got moored up…well, tied reasonably close at the front and a bit of a Grand Canyon going on at the back, but there was enough room for all the returning day-trippers to go past. And I know it’s a stupid thing to get het up about, really silly…maybe if we didn’t have big dogs to heave off I’d be less concerned but…

It was enormous and we ate it all and we don’t care

I decided to restore my equilibrium by cooking up one of my legendary spag bols (a talent I appear to have acquired from dad through DNA osmosis as I never learnt at his knee, just knew instinctively how to do it, though without the decorating the ceiling with spaghetti facet). It was bloody good, washed down with a couple of episodes of Designated Survivor and key lime pie, and we finally went off to bed just before midnight – a remarkable fact in itself as usually when we’re out on the boats, we’re yawning by nine and asleep by one minute past.

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8 Responses to Should have stuck to the GU

  1. Keri-leigh says:

    I have to agree, I am not a fan of the North Stratford I like around Lapworth but once at the top I like to get it done asap either into Brum or out to Hopwood.


  2. SAM says:

    At last a photo of our boat on a blog………well, almost. I can just make out ‘Red Wharf’s’ rear end by follwoing the lines of the lock beam and that TV aerial.
    If you don’t like the North Stratford I reckon you would like the GU route into Brum less, even shallower and much more litter.
    How did you get on with that first lift bridge after the locks?
    The Blue Bell pub is worth a stop, they brew their own beer and in Brum try the Wellington and the Post Office Vaults.
    See you on ‘The Challenge’?
    NB ‘Red Wharf’


  3. Anonymous says:


    I’m slightly confused bt the “6 inches down” comment. If the Northern Stratford is 6 inches down once through the locks, wouldn’t the entirety of the BCN New Main Line be 6″ down?

    We are moored up at Kingswood in Flamingo, and I have memories of a difficult passage out of Brum on Sickle several years back when we dragged through many of the bridge holes. Are we making a mistake to use the North Stratford as our route in?

    Interesting by the way that the only 3 regular bloggers I know of for historic boat owners are all on their way to the same event.


    • nbenceladus says:

      Hi Alan

      I’m going on what the locals told me when I started moaning about it – and I have friends in Brum who were commenting similarly that levels seemed down. Things have improved today after Earlswood depth-wise but we’re still not exactly racing along. Thankfully the canal environs are generally much better than I remember, just the odd crud hotspot. Judging from a comment I’m just about to approve, don’t think the GU is much better. Good luck!


    • nbenceladus says:

      If it helps, we’ve not actually gone aground anywhere – just porridgey and slow in places.


    • Keri-leigh says:

      We are moored in Wolverhampton & levels massively down. It was worse yesterday, little better today.


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