This morning was spent at Cadbury World actually learning quite a bit about how chocolate is produced and where the raw materials come from. There were very impressive hi-tech presentations and the opportunity to see the packaging line and, of course we were given some of their products to try, a glass and a half of milk in every bar, don’t you know.
Just to allow myself a ‘Maffi’ moment…. Returning to our ‘secure’ mooring I noticed how serious BW were about security; their gate padlock, was secured by a chain, which was in turn secured to the gate by a PLASTIC CABLE TIE!
They were also at pains to re-assure their customers about the secure moorings by advising them to take their valuables with them. In fact we felt very secure here, our only disturbance being the train line across the canal, which with its nice, quiet electric trains was a marked contrast for anybody who has ever moored at Heyford.
This afternoon we pressed on to Kings Norton Junction which took us by surprise by its proximity to Bridge 72, requiring us to reverse back through the bridge in order to correct our line to turn into the North Stratford canal and through the famous, though disused guillotine stop-lock.
At least we lost the graffiti at this point, although much of it was good quality graffiti, and apart from the Brandwood tunnel with its bust of Shakespeare on the portal there was little of great interest until Shirley Drawbridge which is not windlass operated as our Pearson’s guide advised us, but has been mechanised and is operated by a BW key from a shiny stainless steel control panel. Much of this part of the canal is tree lined and so were are few views to take in other than back gardens in the more built-up areas.
At Dickens Heath there is much new housing bordering the canal including this water feature among the apartments. Lady Lane Wharf was reached and Earlswood Motor Yacht Club with it’s extensive moorings both on line and on the feeder arm which was being dredged.
Our moorings for tonight were at Blue Bell bridge opposite some permanent on line moorings also selling diesel & water next to the bridge. Just through the bridge is the Blue Bell Cider House, which is described by Nicholsons as a ‘drinkers pub’ and indeed it was with 70s decor and a good range of ciders (including Black Rat & Thatcher’s Heritage which we sampled), real ales and that other fizzy stuff. Their website did promise meals too but when we arrived we found that they didn’t serve food on Mondays or Tuesdays , never mind, it was back to the boat for Macaroni Cheese and I had to forgo my pint of Butty Bach with my meal.