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  • clivenmel

Nov 28th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Glad to report that the trip to the dentist went well. The rogue gold filling is back in place and Mel now has all her teeth again! I suspect Superglue! Two taxi journeys later, we were back and ready to roll by 12.00 noon   The old boatmen used to call this place Cut End � end of the Shropshire Canal with the Worcs & Staffs going North and South at the junction. There is one lock separating the two and it�s all of 6 inches deep! It was evidently born from rivalry between the opposing Canal Companies � they didn�t want the other pinching each others water! It also acts as a Stop Lock, literally able to be locked down and Mel found it hard to budge. A moored boater kindly lent a hand and with combined weight and push, we were OK. Once through, we turned left and onto a new Canal.   Very quickly we came to a peculiar narrow cutting known by old boatmen as Pendford Rockin (a rocking being a manufactured cutting.) This is a bit like some Scottish country roads � it has two passing places where boats can negotiate the very narrow half-mile section. Fortunately, we met no-one coming the other way and slowly emerged into a more rural outlook. The country is quite flat with little of real interest with the M54 and the A449 to Stafford cutting across the landscape. After about an hour we stopped for lunch at the Fox & Anchor (excellent food and fine ale). Pushing on after lunch, a strange (embarrassing) event literally overtook us on the way � we got overtaken by a canoeist! Cheek�! We cruised for another hour as we had planned to be at Gailey Lock by end of play. You will recall that we�ve talked about Winter Stoppages; these are canal stoppages to allow British Waterways and others to repair and maintain the system. Well, now we are parked up at one of these as it�s due to open on the 29th so we wanted to be first in the queue!   Anyway, we moored up and walked up to have a look. The first clue to the stoppage is the orange barrier tape strung across the Top Lock gates. Looking over the top, the second clue appears; the whole lock is virtually empty and a long way down�clever engineering allows for a big block of oak planking to be lowered into a groove down both the sides and floor of the top surface to funnel remaining water into the side sluice; here is the paddle mechanism that allows water into the lock and is, of course, usually invisible. It�s nice to see how it all works.   The third clue is when you look beyond the bottom gate � the canal�s empty � well, nearly. The water has been let out further down the next two pounds and is now only a few inches deep. The fish seem to have made a sharp exit but now, exposed in the soft mud, are the tracks of freshwater mussels, clams and other bi-valve molluscs that clearly thrive here. I suspect the herons have had a field-day!.   Right at the edge of Gailey Lock the old A5 (Watling Street) crosses over the canal and at this junction, perched on the side of both road and canal is the Roundhouse Canal Shop. This is literally a round tower constructed originally as a Toll House; each boat paid a fee to use the canal and here is where you paid your dues. So as not to miss anything and to be sure no boats sneaked through without paying, the Toll House was built in this round style so that the Toll Master could see in all directions. Evidently there used to be quite a number of these round Toll Houses but they�ve all gone � this is the last one remaining. It�s now converted to a unique Canalside shop. Walking back to the boat, we came across a lady with her toddler and greyhound going for a walk � along with a goat! Strange what you meet on the towpath!   About 2.30pm, whilst Mel was washing up, she noticed that the fallen leaves floating on the canal were moving past us at quite a pace.  Now as you will know, canals, unlike rivers, don�t flow, except when locks are being worked, so she suspected that things were happening down at the lock.  She went for a stroll down to the lock and sure enough the canal, which had been empty only a couple of hours previously, was now full!  We are not going to set off today as it is already getting dark, so we will wait until Saturday morning then we�ll be heading NE towards Great Haywood, the Grand Union Canal and back to where we set out from!

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