Tom o' the Wood, Turner's Green

On Friday October 10th the weather was decidedly autumn again as we travelled towards Lapworth. We passed Earlswood where the feeder joins from the reservoirs and there is a thriving boat club.  At Hockley Heath I pointed out the stretch where in 1968 Maggie and I hired a canoe for the afternoon. The two lift bridges interrupted our cruising, the hydraulic gear on the most southerly made some graunching  noises and was stiff.

Just below Lapworth Top Lock Jeremy Scanlon came out to help and chatted to us. We last met Jeremy in the late 1990s at Worcester when we moored up outside the Commandery. He was on board his boat the Unicorn and had just written  Innocents Afloat: a Yank Discovers The Cut. I purchased a copy from Jeremy, read and enjoyed it, and them promptly lost it! A couple of years ago I bought a replacement; I don't like having gaps in my waterways books collection. Jeremy has recently (2013) written another book, Hotel Boat: An Innkeeper Afloat, which is  a sequel to his first book. We had a good chat as we operated the locks and I purchased a copy of the new book. I will have to review it when I have finished reading it.

We had planned to lunch before tackling the thick at Lapworth but that didn't happen and, since the weather was by then good, we ploughed on. At the top of the thick there was a volunteer CRT lock keeper. As we left lock 7 and boat coming uphill was leaving lock 8. The lock keeper helped organise the manouver since there is a sharp corner between the locks, that is presumably why there is an old roller mechanism mounted on the bridge.

Roller mechanism, Lapworth Lock 7

Lapworth Flight, negotiating the bend between Locks 7 & 8

We took lunch on the move as we went down the flight and the sun shone. Because no other boats were on the move we took our time.

Lapworth Flight

We picked up water by Lock 19, where there is a large side-pond. As we waited for the tank to fill a gull caught a large fish. Unfortunately for the gull it was so large it couldn't take off carrying it. It decided the best approach was to eat it intact while it was on the water! It was a futile exercise but the gull did manage to devour some of it before giving up and flying off.

Gull trying to dispatch a large fish

We branched off at Kingswood and joined the Grand Union - our first wide canal for over six months. it felt quite different. 

Kingswood Junction

Our overnight mooring was at the Tom O' the Woods mooring at Turners Green. We were opposite some goats who were waiting for their evening meal. 

Where's my dinner?

We visited the eponymous inn (I always wanted to use that word) and had a great meal. They appear to like dogs at the Tom O' the Woods because as we left we noticed that the conservatory area was crowded with dogs and their walkers. They also have lots of pictures on their Labrador called Boris on their web site. I had wondered why they asked if we had dogs on board when we booked the table earlier that evening.