Fair Exchange Was Robbery!

After April 1st when her indoors felt we needed to ‘exchange’ duties, i.e. “Your turn to work the locks!”, my shoulders recovered well from the 5 locks down at Adderley that day. “Are you fit to continue?” she asked!  Yes Mam ready to go again. I should have known that there was a catch….hmmmm. Just about a mile from our overnight came the first of 15 locks in the Audlem flight! Male pride, ego, stubbornness or what, this was a challenge not to be passed over!

The sun was up as we reached the first lock which was set against us, the chamber had to be filled before we could descend to the lower level. Lots of windless twirling later we were off….. Another lock, and we came across a boater coming UP the locks….., so we now had lock chambers full, no need for windlass twirling before descending, great!

Under Bagley Lane Bridge (#76) the full extent of the Audlem flight came into view. Oh my giddy aunt!

Windlass twirling is a very sociable occupation, I met several ladies, doing ‘men’s work’, pausing for a chat, tips on best lock technique, things to observe during our planned voyage. There was an ‘Honesty Box’ half way down the flight, with free range eggs and cakes for sale. Just leave the money in the cashbox……..

I had started the day with 3 layers of clothing, but by now I was down to tee shirt and jeans. As the locks are fairly close together it is impractical to ride, so walking to the next lock is the norm…….., I didn’t realise I would be walking the mile and a half to Audlem as well as windlass twirling. It was at this point I realised the exchange of duties was robbery!

Under Audlem bridge before lock 13 there appeared a pub! The Shroppie Fly, I insisted we moor up and take some well earned refreshment, well it would be rude not too 🙂

Oh no the pub was closed?

Change of management or something, but it was securely locked on a gloriously sunny Sunday lunchtime!

Fortunately there was an alternative source of refreshment, the Bridge Inn was serving Marstons……..

Suitably refreshed we returned to CYAN and ready to take on the last 3 locks. As we were about to board a stranger approached us, enquiring about the boat, how long had we been on the network. All the usual questions boat owners like to talk about! This polite, neatly turned out gentleman (John) was from the ‘Friends of the Canal & River Trust’. It was like the moment at motorway services when the ‘AA’ man asks you ” Are you a member sir?” We were hooked!

Twenty minutes later we were signed up for a ÂŁ5 monthly donation to the trust and given badges, books, leaflets and magazines. Well it is for a good cause eh……., well done John, excellent sales technique ……

The final 3 locks were accompanied by several Gongoozler moments, it was warm sunshine, a Sunday afternoon, and they were a friendly lot. One couple had just moved to Audlem and didn’t know there was a canal nearby! We discussed the history and engineering and they vowed to take out a hire boat to try boating for themselves!

Completed Audlem Locks

At last Lock 15………yes. Now for some TV footy and a relax with a can or two

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