The arboretum is flooded. The arboretum is the reason I diverted from my route to Alrewas. So I decided to return to Fradeley Junction. There are only three locks between where I am moored and where I will moor near the junction. Unfortunately I am pointing the wrong way, so I will have to descend a lock to turn around. I wasn’t sure whether I would go today or leave it until tomorrow, but as I was coming up the lock after turning I saw a boat coming from Fradeley. That decided me. The ice was broken, I should go.
Another boat came behind that and managed to hit my bow push me into the last boat in the line while he was trying to avoid the overgrowth. Why he couldn’t wait till I got past is anyone’s guess.
I suppose it only takes about 45 minutes from Alrewas to the junction and I dropped into the mooring I had left yesterday, neat!
I had dinner, showered and sat reading for a while, George Orwell The Road to Wigan Pier. At 8.30 I got dressed and walked the few hundred yards to the SWAN.
Oh Joy of Joys Sunday night is live music night. Several, I assume, local boys got up to the mike and did a fair job. A bit too much time between songs, tuning up and stuff, but I suppose it was OK for a free gig in a pub.
I quite like the SWAN. It is a very friendly pub. The bosses Rick and Tracey seem nice people. Rick asked me my name tonight, I wondered what I did wrong. “Maffi,” says I. “Oh! like it says on your boat.” “Well, yes.” Why he asked I don’t know but he did.
The music continued on until just before last orders and then the night dwindled away. It takes a good man to hold a tune and not every one can. A few tonight couldn’t, but then everyone has bad days. Just before I left Thrupp a few chaps had a session at the Jolly Boatman. I took my guitar along sang one song and couldn’t remember the words for other songs I tried, even those I wrote myself. How bad is that!
Unlike many canal pubs the SWAN has kept its ‘patina’. It’s a proper canal pub and if anyone comes with modern ideas they will destroy it for ever.
The Rowbarge at Woolhampton on the K&A is a classic example of a screwed up pub. The Boat Inn at Thrupp is typical of the new era pub landlords, that are destined to spoil pubs by the canal. Last time I was in the Boat Inn the boating pictures had been replaced with hunting scenes. Sorry, but it’s a canal pub. There should be pictures of boats and boat memorabilia; not horses, dogs and foxes. I hope the SWAN never changes. It will be a sad day if it ever does.
I suppose change is inevitable, but some change is not for the better. Canals are by their very nature ‘Old Fashioned’. It’s what people come here for, the history, the leisurely pace and the calm. These things are not available in glass and concrete and chrome. And definitely not in hunting scenes.
I suppose if ever a canal pub gets a new owner it has to be someone who loves the canals and not just some snark who is out to make money. I don’t think canal pubs and squillions of quids go together unless you are somewhere like Fradeley Junction in the summer. It really has to be a labour of love. People who are after making their fortune can only serve to destroy the wonderful pubs to be found on the cut.