Tilly Tunnel Practice. 18th September

Coombeswood Canal Trust to Dudley Port Basin

An audience

Last night we joined the first event of the Waterways Alive! Festival which is taking place this weekend at Batchworth Lock. Since the formation of the Waterway Arts Collective this has been the first opportunity to put together an event. Events are happening live and some available on line and last night we joined a large zoom gathering to hear about how a Mikron show gets put together. Hosted by Kate Saffin, there was Marianne McNamara (Artistic Director of Mikron) and Poppy Hollman the writer of A Dog’s Tale one of their shows this summer. A very interesting hour hearing how the company works and what their plans are for next year. Sadly this year we didn’t manage to get to see either of their shows, here’s hoping we manage to be in a suitable place next year.

This is a good outside

Tilly was given an hour and a half whilst we had breakfast and then just as we joined the Geraghty zoom she came in, cabin crew went straight to the doors and closed them, just to make sure we’d be ready for departure when we’d finished chatting to the family. Topics covered today Chorley Cakes (made with shortcrust pastry, an Eccles cake is made with flaky puff pastry) and whether to have butter on them or not, The Medway and it was nice to see Sean home between tennis tournaments in the States.

A rather pleasant mooring for the night, thank you

Last few chores were done before leaving the close proximity of a water tap and recycling bins. The shop was closed today so we couldn’t leave a donation, instead we did one on line later in the day. Thank you to the trust for a very pleasant stay.

Overgrown industry on the offside

One chore that hadn’t been done, checking the weedhatch. There was almost guaranteed to be something around the prop, we’d pull in where we’d had lunch, except there were fishermen there. We’d pull in at the tunnel waiting mooring, perfect. Mick pulled quite a bit of plastic off the prop and by the time he’d finished we thought we could hear a boat in the tunnel.

Hello Aunty Gill!

This gave us time to pose for a selfie in front of Oleanna to send to Mick’s Aunty Gill. Thankfully the sun was out, the birds were cheeping, hard to imagine the amount of heavy industry, noise and soot that would have hung in the air below Stewart and Lloyds.

Chug chug chug

The Trust workboat soon appeared from the tunnel a large chunk of charred tree trunk on the bow. A few years ago a boat got stuck in the tunnel due to a log getting wedged alongside it. We wonder if the work boat goes through the tunnel once maybe twice a day to check it’s clear. Just a shame the tunnel was now full of a cloud of diesel fumes.

With diesel and water tanks both full, we now sit lower in the water, progress was slower through the tunnel. Back out the other side we had a few more moments were there was no telling Oleanna which way to go as we headed to the offside bank! Two boats headed towards us, no such problems for them.

Fourth tunnel in two days

Netherton Tunnel was empty except for a fisherman and a couple of pedestrians who were around a third of the way through. I slid open the hatch a touch to check on Tilly below. A couple of years ago she started to shout at the stern doors, not happy with the imposed darkness that a tunnel brought. Yesterday there had been two tunnels, today the same two again. How was she faring? Very well it seemed, sitting at the dinette, keeping a beady eye on me peeking down through the hatch. Yes yes I’m fine! Tunnels are nothing to worry about. I shouted because I was in need of shore based facilities that just so happened to coincide with the outside turning the lights out! I’m an experienced boat cat you know! I can cope with tunnels!!! Just as well as there’s a big one planned soon.

We popped back out into the sunlight 34 minutes later and headed back to the New Main Line. Here it was right, then another right onto the Gower Branch towards Brades Locks. About ten days ago NB Briar Rose had done the same trip, only when they reached the staircase lock there was a problem, the top chamber being completely empty.

One of the paddles between the two chambers was leaking so much that the top chamber would never fill. They ended up having to reverse all the way back to the new main line to find an alternate route. News had come through to us that the problem had been sorted and our ascent was fine.

Old Main Line again

A quick check for oncoming boats on the Wolverhampton Level before Oleanna pulled out turning right, would we ever turn left again! After about a mile we did, turning into Dudley Port Basin. So far the water on the Wolverhampton level had been quite clear, some duck weed and quite a lot of lily pads floating about. Here in the basin it seemed that the lilies had taken over, would we have problems. We chose where to moor, there are rings all the way round the basin, the stern would have quite a clear line towards the side.

It still took a bit of doing, churning up quite a lot of stinky blackness from the bottom. Hopefully the smell will dissipate quickly! With a mooring in sight of the road we could finish off our Sainsburys order for delivery in the morning.

The last leaf…..I hope!

This evening I succeeded in finishing cutting the scalloped edges of the 3588 leaves for panto whilst watching Great Canal Journeys. I now have an Ikea blue bag full of them, hope there is enough! But one disappointment for the evening was not getting to see any of the Marple flight and only one lock of the Ashton flight into Manchester on GCJ. But with a very mature novice crew on board we suspect Sheila and Giles are being saved all the hard work and the recounting of John Thaw’s early life in Manchester was far more interesting.

3 locks, 2 a staircase, 7.57 miles, 2 tunnels, 8 mysterons, 1 cool cat, 3 moving boats, 4 rights, 1 left, 1 screaming baby, 1 barking woofer, 1 big order made, 3588 leaves, 1 bag of panto ready, 1 goldfish, 1 coconut, 1 mardy cat.


4 thoughts on “Tilly Tunnel Practice. 18th September

    1. Pip Post author

      It might have been! Won’t make it this year though. I see Bandit has gone to his forever home, glad he’s heald.

      1. joamungoanddog

        I sobbed, I miss him so much. He’s the first foster I’ve ever sobbed for. Mum and 3 babies (2 weeks) will arrive Monday. All black/white so we’ll se if there’s a Tilly lookalike!

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