Day three, Kings Bromley Wharf to Polesworth.
First things first. In the early hours it suddenly occurred to me that the Primus stopped working after Jim had filled it with paraffin, and believing that you can never have too much of a good thing, had probably put too much in, meaning that there wasn't enough air to compress to pressurise it. So in the morning I emptied some paraffin out, and it worked! So tea all round. Then I put some more water on to wash my hair, and just as I was doing so, dripping over the counter, who should come by but Liam on Ariel, filming as he went. Ariel looked great and it was lovely to see it at last.
I put some more grease into the stern tube (think it might need repacking but it's manageable at the moment); we topped up the oil, and were ready for the off at eight thirty, breakfast deferred as Mike highly recommended a cafe at Fradley (at the caravan site, not the one opposite the BW office) for bacon rolls. The sun was already shining as I steered us to the junction, negotiated the many lovely boats moored there, and was greeted by Andrew and Andrea from Dove, as well as Liam on Ariel and others we'd followed down yesterday. By some miracle, I got around the bend and into the Coventry Canal without a hitch, so I do hope Liam was filming that too - it looked as if he was. At that point it felt as if the boat was enchanted... there's been a few times like that actually.
The Coventry is shallow and bendy but all was going well until... We got stuck in a lock for the first time. Glascote top lock, to be precise. We went up no problem, but the top gate wouldn't open fully; something hard and immoveable was behind it. It seemed as if it might just be marginal enough to squeeze through (though to be honest I wouldn't have tried if it hadn't been suggested by others) but it wasn't, and the inevitable result was that Chertsey got about six feet out and then could move neither backwards nor forwards. Other Braunston bound boats were now backing up behind us and came to offer help and advice. After trying crowbars to no avail, we got the boat free by a combination of rocking and reversing, then after quite a while managed to remove the obstruction by moving bricks that had seemed to be displaced from the lockside towards the middle. The gate then opened fully and we glided graciously out.
We had hoped to get to Atherstone tonight, for a drink in the Market Tavern and to stock up on pies, but we were so desperate for a drink and some food (chips in Jim's case) that we decided to stop in Polesworth instead. Big mistake. Most of the pubs were really horrible, though the first one we tried didn't seem so bad after looking at the others and they did have a Local Character and well kept beer. In the meantime we'd ordered pizza etc from Turners Bistro (and Steak-Away!), where the proprietor was really cheerful and friendly and helpful. We the retired to the boat to eat it, and it was very nice. It's a shame that we won't be in Atherstone for an evening, nor if things go to plan, at Hawkesbury, as these are the pubs we'd really like to visit.