Left Left Please. 14th April

Curdworth Visitor Moorings to Star City, Grand Union: Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal

Heading up to the Birmingham plateau usually means long hard days of locks, no matter which direction you come from. However today was going to be a short one for us as we were heading for new waters!

Daffodils and chickens

The boats around us had already moved off before us, the Anglo Welsh boat starting it’s engine bang on 8am. We’d noticed a slight list to Oleanna, I pushed out the bow, but the stern was being obstinate. Mick popped her in reverse, then pushed, then reverse again. Eventually we were off the bottom just as a boat was coming through the bridge behind us. Sorry we pulled out, we’d reached the point where we just had to carry on.

Minworth Bottom Lock

Minworth Bottom Lock was very full, in fact the top gate was open. A chap was busy picking litter from quite a mound of duck weed on the off side. He asked if we could wait whilst he removed the worst of the weed and rubbish from the lock before I emptied it. Mick hung around below and I chatted with the chap. He does this off his own back, with rakes, landing nets, a bucket (now broken) and a high sided wheelbarrow.

Handy bus stop

By the time I emptied the lock and opened the bottom gate (only one as we’re on the BCN) Mick had managed to pick up something on the prop. A blast of reverse disposed of it, but now he was very very close to the arch of the bridge below. Thankfully he managed to manoeuvre away before any damage happened to the grab rail or pram hood.

Pale patches of grass suggests this lock had work done recently

You could tell the chap had started at the bottom of the locks as the next two got progressively worse, more duck weed and more and more rubbish collecting above the top gates.

Noisy motorbikes on the towpath

With todays fuel prices you would think that would put off the towpath motorbikes, but no. Two kept passing us, up and down the way almost to our planned destination. They paused at the drive through KFC then were heading back of into the distance again


Tiger, zebra, giraffe and a crocodile!

A hire boat came past, or was it an Ark? Only one of each animal on board though.

The canal now gets more and more urban. The M6 getting closer and closer all the time, HS2 will join in with this in years to come.

Natural light changing ugly into attractive

Over head a factory was built spanning the canal. Concrete pillars holding the weight beyond the towpath. Today we’d timed our cruise to perfection, the sun streaming in between the pillars. The colours of the (none too artistic) graffiti catching the light and creating an effect similar to that of stained glass. Wow! What a treat.

We were facing Spaghetti Junction, old bridges and new all starting to cross cross at speed above the slow moving canal below. Peeking through under the M6 we could see where we’d be stopping today, Star City.

Left left please

At Salford Junction I gave directions. Not straight on or just left but, ‘Left Left Please!’ Mick slowed Oleanna down and pushed the tiller over, several points to the turn and we were round and onto new water for all of us.

The River Tame below M6 above

Now on the Grand Union, we crossed over the River Tame which quietly trickles it’s way underneath transport old and new. Nechelles or Salford Bridge Stop Lock now has no gates but the canal narrows and a cottage sits behind big fences for it’s own protection. A cheery chap called out to us from the garden.

Ahead was our mooring for the night, Star City pontoon, a secure mooring behind a locked gate, or so we thought. On closer inspection someone has cut away the C&RT padlock. This may have been because the padlock broke. We pulled up at the near end, furthest away from the busy road bridge ahead.

What a long pontoon!

Star City has a huge cinema, bowling alley, restaurants etc. We’d not be visiting and neither would Tilly. This took a bit of explaining as to begin with the trees, cowslips and sideways trees looked appealing. But behind them was a service road then the carpark. The Cat Health and Safety Committee convened and decided it was too risky.


After a late lunch Mick chopped up a log that had been fished out of the Aire and Calder by Al weeks ago in Goole. I started on a batch of Hot Paw Buns, mixing together the dough and leaving it to rise before adding the fruit and spices.

Only half of the rip!

Next on the jobs list was the port side cratch cover. Yes we’ve only just had the zips mended but unfortunately when Mick dropped me off at Nether Lock on the Trent the other day we were too busy protecting the cabin side to notice that the overhang attacked the pram cover! A rip along the skirt and a broken zip!

Mended a couple of times before

I’ve been looking online to see if it would be possible to mend the zip rather than replace it. With a pair of plyers in hand I had a go at following the advice I’d found, the zip head may have opened up and not be pushing the teeth together enough, so hopefully a squeeze back would do the job.


I gave the leading end of the zip a squeeze, a slight improvement, but I couldn’t squeeze anymore. Mick came and helped too. Maybe the back of the zip needed a squeeze too. We nudged the head down a touch opened up the teeth behind and applied pressure. Back up to the top as far as it could go and try again.

It would never be invisible so I don’t mind the brighter blue cotton

Well it looks like the job might be done as the teeth are now aligning and pushing together as they should do. We’ll see if it stays together tomorrow when I roll the covers up.

Mick checked the weed hatch, not much to report on the urban jellyfish front. We’ll see what we manage to catch in the morning!

Hot Paw Buns Click photo for recipe

Hot Paw Buns had their fruit and spices added. Normally I’d leave the the dough to rest again before shaping them, but today I experimented, shaping and adding their centres, leaving them on a tray to rise before going in the oven. It took them quite sometime to show any intention of rising, maybe they weren’t warm enough, maybe the yeast was past it’s best, or maybe I was pushing them too soon. But what really matters was how did they taste.

Going going….

Yummy as ever!

3 locks, 5.8 miles, 1 left left, 1 good soul, 1 dinted dinghy! 12 hot paw buns, 2 inches darned, 1 log kindling, 1 zip mended?