Cold with heavy drizzle this morning - the first precipitation of the trip. British Waterways had been busy at the locks above Penkridge removing the temporary barriers that were in place on the lock bridges and installing rather neat fencing such as this at Otherton Lock, although surprisingly it's been placed on the side wall away from the lock, which is still protected, as it always was, by only a low barrier wall making the whole enterprise rather pointless!
Compare the photo above with the one I took on the way north a few days earlier.
After Calf Heath we caught up with a really slow boat whose steerer had no idea we were behind him and which consequently we followed all the way to Autherley Junction. Going through the narrows at "Pendeford Rockin'" we even had to knock Starcross out of gear to avoid running into it. I don't know why people go through here so slowly; surely the best way of avoiding meeting another boat between passing places is to minimise your transit time by getting through as quickly as you can.
I never seem to get past Autherley Junction without some messing about and today was no exception. Despite willing the slow boat to go straight ahead it turned right and disappeared under the junction bridge and into the stop lock. Hil, who is still practising her turning skills, made a perfect manoeuvre under the bridge to wait for the lock but then we saw a boat approaching from the other direction, which meant we would have to reverse out of the bridgehole to let it through. This took longer than anticipated as Napton Narrowboats, which has a hire-base here, was using the passage of boats through the stop lock to instruct a group of hirers on lock use - understandably as unless they were headed for Wolverhampton, which most of them aren't, the nearest locks are some distance away in any direction.
Eventually we were through and carried on as far as the moorings between bridges 7 and 8 where we tied up, being careful to choose a spot as far away as possible from the "Wordsley Lass" on which an enormous television ariel suggested an equally large widescreen telly and sure enough an evening stroll along the towpath at 10pm revealed a generator running, although to be fair it was quieter than most and located in the engine room rather than, as with so many, on the towpath