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Travels of Joanie M – Life as a continuous cruiser – Stratford to Birmingham

We left Stratford in the sunshine, planning to stop near the Park & Ride where we expected to find Tom & Christine moored. Unfortunately they had the same idea and had started down the canal the other way. Isn’t communication wonderful! After a hurried conversation we moored below the Wilmcote flight and after lunch cycled down to meet them just before the bottom lock into Stratford. After they had moored we joined t hem onboard for a cold drink before returning home.

The 7th was Joanie Ms 6th birthday and after a celebration breakfast we started up the Wilmcote flight with the assistance of a volunteer lockie. We moored at Wilmcote for lunch, intending to stay the night but it was quite a dull mooring, with trees obscuring the sun so we decided to continue. Just at the end of the moored boats was a fender maker and after another shouted conversation we decided to treat Joanie M with a birthday present. A new bow fender. The old one had always hung a bit lop sided so for £50 including fitting, it now looks great. Crossing the aqueduct at Brearley/Edstone is not my cup of tea. As I have got older I seem to suffer a little from vertigo and an aqueduct that seems to have nothing to stop the boat from going over the side is a bit dis-concerting. An AW hire boat was waiting for us to cross but unfortunately went aground. We left them thrashing the engine in forward. You like to shout ‘that’s not the way to do it’ but most words get lost in the general engine noise.

Wotten Wawen was our next night stop, opposite the AW hire base. A bit upsetting to see how few boats are out on hire but I supposed it made the mooring quieter. There is a well stocked shop at Wotton Wawen so I was up early on the Saturday to get a Daily Telegraph. I find many small shops don’t have large stocks of papers so the earlier the better, not that I needed to worry. They had a stack about 2 feet high.

We moored again at Lowsonford in company with a boat named ‘Ami Bovard’ (it took me a long time to get the name!) who we had last seen in Stratford. We didn’t move on Sunday but stayed to enjoy the sun with a walk across to Shrewley on the Grand Union and along the canal to Turners Green before walking back down the Stratford and home. We only saw one moving boat on the two mile stretch we walked and at Rowington embankment, a very popular mooring spot because of its views, again only one boat. To the Fleur de Lys on return for an excellent pint of Hook Norton Lion in the sun.

Next day was Kingswood Junction before heading up the Lapworth flight, again assisted by volunteer lockies. We stopped at Hockley Heath for a couple of days as it is a convenient place to get a bus to Solihull (John Lewis, M & S, Lakeland, etc) and to meet up with Ann & Alan who we first met on the Caen flight of the K & A and have kept in touch with ever since. We filled with diesel at Lyons Boatyard before arriving at Yardley Wood to fill the water tank and meet my sister-in-law who lives nearby. Just as the tank was filled the Nb ‘Michaelmas’ arrived who we spent some time with last year on the Ashby, walking the route of the infilled canal together to Measham.

This is obviously our time to meet old friends as n ext week we are due to have lunch with Rolly and Paul & Christine. More about that next time when I tell you about the delights of Birmingham and going into the drydock.

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Trained as Engineer with Ford Motor Company. Ran Vehicle Electrics Business in Southampton until 2004. Share in 'Sundowner' from 1999 to 2007. Sold house in 2007 after having 'Joanie M' built to our spec - not that we haven't changed a number of things. Been cruising ever since.

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