We had a really quiet night at Swindon even though we moored opposite the cricket club. We were safe enough as there were nets to stop stray balls hitting the boats. There were cricket matches on Saturday and Sunday but I'm not a cricket fan. Eric enjoyed the Grand Prix and I took Ben for a walk. Lots of people passing the boats walking and cycling. One couple asked us about our boat as they're planning to have a boat built beginning next Spring. We were able to answer lots of their questions about life afloat.
On Monday we set off through several locks, sometimes I took the boat in the lock and Eric worked the boat through until we finally got to Bratch Locks. No queues today so we were able to go up the locks straight away. Eric took the boat in while I worked the locks with the help of one of the two lock keepers. The lock keepers here always make a note of the boats name and number as well as whether the boat licence is business or private so big brother is certainly keeping track of us as we travel the system. Above Bratch we stopped and moored up for the night above the visitor moorings which were filled by a boat moored in the middle so nobody could moor up with him. Another quiet night and really dark so we saw loads of stars.
Next day our plan was to get past Aldersley Junction where the Wolverhampton 21 begins or ends and Autherley Junction where the Shroppie meets the Staffs and Worcs Canal. Both junctions were boat free as you can't go up the Wolverhampton 21 and the hireboaters aren't going up the Shroppie as they can't do a ring. We met one couple going south on a hireboat on the Staffs and Worcs who'd gone from Brewood to Llangollen via the Trent and Mersey and were on their way back to Brewood- all in two weeks, they must be exhausted! We went through 'Pendeford Rockin' where the canal narrows as it is cut through a solid belt of sandstone and we didn't see another boat. We passed through Coven as it's far too near a busy road for a quiet night's sleep and finally moored up near Moat House Bridge as it's really quiet there.
On Wednesday morning we had a nice surprise as we were getting up- I heard a steam whistle and looked out of the window to see the steam narrowboat President and it's butty Kildare coming round the corner. They are on a tour of the canal system to celebrate 100 year Anniversary. There's lots of information on their website so click on the link if you want to know more. The canal has been much busier today with boats moving in both directions so locking has been easier. I walked Ben the dog as far as Gailey where we stopped to use the services. We now going down in the locks and I find it harder to get the boat in the locks without any contact with the lock sides. Eric does it so easily- I need more practise!
We moored up at Penkridge because I needed to get some fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread and there's a big Coop in the village. We left Ben looking after the boat. On our return we decided to stay put and move in the morning as it was already 4 pm. Finding the dot in the sky wasn't easy with the trees but Eric managed it.