Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Midsummer day 2012

Not moved today. It rained much of the day so we stayed here and went for a walk while it was drier and then returned to the boat and watched War Horse on DVD. It's such an amazing film. The weather forecast for the next few days looks even worse, but we have seen boats going by with pram covers up, so allowing for the higher bridges we will give it a try tomorrow despite the amber weather warning. Hope to write more tomorrow!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

20th June '12

I didn't want to get up today - mainly because I didn't sleep last night. John (bless him) took Paddy out and then went for his run (yes he's still doing that most mornings - it's up to a good half-hour now, the man's demented) and tried not to make a noise. I hauled myself up and had got breakfast started by the time he got back but it took a while to get into gear.

We walked down to the lift but after chatting to boaters last night who were going to the festival (one of whom was an IWA volunteer and knew about stuff) and it appears that not only are there no moorings available but there are no slots on the lift to go down this week or to come up until the end of next week, so we are going to do it another time when it's a bit quieter.

here are two boats going into the lift ready for the descent - it is a long and slow process. this bit is just a sort of holding bay and then they move forward into the lift bit together.

This is the whole thing from the bottom - John went down - I couldn't get through with Paddy so he became the photographer for a while. It's a massive structure and I'm looking forward to the experience later in the year hopefully.

The entrance to Barnton tunnel - 572yards long.

Coming around the corner before Saltersford Tunnel - we had to go in between the hour and 10past as it was one way traffic and you couldn't see the other end despite being only 424yards long. It was one of the first tunnels built and Brindley wasn't too good at going in straight lines at that point.

and finally ..... the entrance to Preston Brook tunnel - 1239yards and can only be entered from the south between the hour and 20past. Although over twice as long as Saltersford you can actually see the light from both ends. Miraculously our headlamp didn't go out once! Phew... mind you the longest only took 17minutes to get through and the lights usually go out after 20 minutes but John reckons the new circuit breaker is up to the job. I was still ready with my new 1000 candlelight torch, just in case!

We are now on the Bridgewater Canal - totally new water for us and it means that we have travelled the whole length of the Trent and Mersey - I have bought us a plaque to put on the back door to celebrate our achievement.

Here's the photo from yesterday of the heron wading through the shallows of one of the 'flashes', you can see how wide it is but not navigable.

We actually grounded a bit today - John was getting onto the right side of the canal to go under a bridge and the water wasn't deep enough. He got us off quite quickly - I was all ready to do my bouncing about on the other side of the boat or getting the pole to push us off but he got us free before I had a chance to do my hero bit.

There are NO locks on the Bridgewater - what am I going to do? It's not a very long canal but it IS the first to have been built. Our first impressions are good, towpaths are wide and in good condition and the canal itself is wider than we are used to. There are widebeam craft up here so it's going to be a bit different. We shall be going through places that we remember from visiting Manchester to see the boat whilst it was being built - in fact this is where we SHOULD have taken her for her initial voyage if only she'd been finished in time.

Weather forecast is horrendous for tomorrow so not sure if we'll do a lot tomorrow, what a shame. Theoretically we can only be on this waterway for 7 days without a separate licence - fingers crossed!

Nearly forgot - we are moored near a place called Moore! just a few miles up the Bridgewater.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

19th June '12

Sunshine again! Popped across the road to stock up on milk and found a postbox! So what? I hear you ask. Well last night we searched the town high and low before eventually discovering somewhere to post Mum's postcard. Typical.

We set off and a boat was coming out of the lock just ahead of our mooring so I carefully steered around it as John was walking down, lock key in hand, and would you believe it???? Some b*****d the lock and brought his boat in. I was furious. I moored up and went over and pointed out that I'd been going in the lock. He laughed and said I could have gone over the top if I'd wanted to. I didn't slap him but politely pointed out that he'd wasted a lot of water and ignored lock etiquette, and then walked off back to the boat. He tried to tell John that he hadn't seen me but John pointed out that we had only come out from the line of moored boats in clear sight of the lock and that he couldn't have failed to see me. Suprisingly he didn't wave as he went past me and even more suprisingly I didn't make any rude gestures.... as John said afterwards, we'd heard of this happening but had never experienced it ourselves. Apparently the chap said that he 'usually' waited for boats and John re-iterated that we 'ALWAYS' waited for them. Good for John.

Apart from that things were quite interesting and everyone else was lovely. There was quite a queue at the 3 locks north of Middlewich and quite a tight squeeze but all was done slowly and with good humour.

Coming out of the first lock with the junction on the left and the next lock through the bridge ahead. John is on the bridge but barely visible!

This is the second lock and there's a small holding pound between this one and the one before - they are also at right angles to each other. there is a boat in the lock coming up and theres a boat behind me in the lock coming down.

This is taken from the same place but looking backwards! We had to time it so that as the boat coming up came out of the lock they went to my right (we normally pass on the left) so that they could have a swing at the lock, while I got into the now empty lock without hitting them, as the boat coming down came out of their lock and made way (somehow I didn't watch at this point) so that they could take my place (a very tight squeeze at that angle) and the boat coming up could get into their lock! Somehow it all worked!

We stopped just after the locks and filled with water and got rid of the rubbish. That is often the hardest thing to do on the water. It breaks my heart that there is very little re-cycling done on the canals. Considering we are so eco-friendly in most other ways it seems a bit of an oversight.

We didn't get to go inside here but it does what it says on the can!

Bizarely there is a double lock in the middle of this narrow canal and here we are inside it with another boat! Apparently they considered making it wide enough for wide-beams but forgot to make the tunnels or any other locks to match! Ironically just along from here is one of the narrowest 'pinches' on the whole canal!

I'm having problems up-loading photos so won't do any more tonight.

We have come through some interesting bits today - there are some what are called 'flashes' along the canal. These are very wide stretches caused by land subsiding into the old salt mines! There are some very shallow bits so you have to be careful to stay on the right course. I have a photo of a heron wading through one! It's quite strange.

There are some real industrial sections interspersed with some beautiful countryside. There's an awful chemical plant across the canal with pipes and rust and bits falling off - not sure who runs it but it's not a thing of beauty!

We are now moored at ...... ANDERTON.... we are going to see if we can go down the lift - apparently you have to book, so we shall go in and see tomorrow what the procedure is. There's a boat festival at Northwich at the weekend so if we can get down we will cruise the River Weaver and go to it.

We are now going to visit the pub opposite and seeing about some food since I have very little in the cupboard!

Monday, 18 June 2012

18th June '12

a short day today but done in sunshine!!! Hooray!!!

We have just come a few miles up and moored at Middlewich, since there is a chandlers here and we needed to get a new circuit breaker before the tunnel we will get to either tomorrow or the day after! Hopefully this will get us through without it going out - luckily it's a short tunnel and I suspect we will be able to see the other end but there's a principle at stake here! Just to be on the safe side I made John buy me a HUGE torch so in the worst case scenario I can stand at the front and shine it.

There was a boat festival here over the weekend apparently which we avoided because we didn't expect to get a mooring, but apparenly it was very quiet because of the weather and we could have come here. Oh well you live and learn.

We have just treated ourselves to fish and chips for lunch - not quite Sunnyhill portions (Tom etc will know what I mean) but still very generous and I couldn't eat all my chips. We actually ate outside which was lovely - we haven't had our chairs out on the tow-path for such a long time I can't acually remember the occasion!

We have got a really busy road next to us but the neighbours are friendly and it's so nice to be warm that we have decided to stay here for the night and just relax a bit. John has fitted the new circuit breaker and is currently attaching new fenders to the boat as ours have taken a bit of a battering. Plus one of them was actually found by John wrapped around our propeller last year so it didn't owe us anything.

I've draped washing around the boat and am all set to get the knitting out and sit outside and enjoy the sun.

Somewhat industrial approach to Middlewich which belies the town itself.

this is the view from our hatch taken looking down towards Kings Lock, which is where the Shropshire re-joins the Trent and Mersey. Should be interesting as there's the lock, the junction and another lock within 100yds of canal. Looking forward to that tomorrow morning.

by the way is anyone actually reading this? I've had no comments so far and wonder if it's entirely for my own benefit (I'll still do it by the way - but am just interested).

17th June '12

Happy Fathers Day! John had cards from Chloe, Tom and Paddy! PLUS I let him have a new washing sponge today - what more could any man ask for?

We set out again in hope, only to be showered on slightly, nothing like the past few days but enough to need an anorak on, certainly at the start of the day.

We managed to travel about 3 miles and do 14 locks today.... it all became a bit of a blur after a while. Many of the locks came in pairs, which wasn't too bad, but few of them had boats coming out and most seemed to be set against us. John was pretty bushed at the end of it and I was past feeling anything I think.

We got to Wheelock, at the end of the whole series of locks, and stopped briefly to have a quick look around. It took about 5 minutes then we went in a pub called the Cheshire Cheese and tried the local ale. The people around here are SO friendly. We chatted to a couple and ended up feeling we'd known them for ages. We decided against mooring there, since there was no TV signal or phone connection and we fancied a night just chilling in front of the box.

Finding a mooring was not then that easy - lots of bends and then a straight with pilings but so shallow we couldn't get close to them. Finallly we found a decent place - knee deep in undergrowth but there were pilings hidden in the depths and we got a TV signal - still not much phone but enough for Chloe to ring her dad and have a nice chat. Not enough for me to log on so I'm doing this in retrospect.

I took this merely to show that at some point we actually took our coats off for the first time in days! Question - why do they put locks at such awkward angles to the towpath? it doesn't matter which direction you are coming from they are ALWAYS pointing the wrong way!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

16th June '12

Moored at Kidsgrove and so we had a quick look in the town - it's an old mining community and rather sad. So many shops shut up but those there are seem to be quite busy. We went and bought ourselves a filled oatcake each - having no idea what they were but it's the local 'thing' so we wanted to try them. They turned out to be sort of pancakes made with oats presumably - quite nice actually. We had cheese and mushroom for those who are interested!

The water in the canal here is rusty coloured, apparently because of the iron oxide that leaks out of the stone in the tunnel - it's murky but quite interesting.

this is leaving the first lock at Kidsgrove - hard to see the water colour, but one of the interesting bits here is that many of the locks are duplicated, so there are 2 narrow locks side by side. This is great as far as I'm concerned since it's very likely that at least one of them will be set in our direction!

We moored just the other side of the boat in the photo last night, by the way. I discovered that we were at the top of what is known as 'Heartbreak Hill' because of the number of locks that have to be negotiated. To give some perspective on this, we have been travelling for a week and covered 52 miles in which we rose 259' 8". we are now going to descend 224' 2" in just under 7 miles. I hope that impresses you!

After a dry morning we once again ignored the forecast and left at midday, just as the rain started! We have only gone about 2 miles but have done 10 locks! still a couple to do tomorrow but the rain just became unbearable. I was cold and miserable so we stopped at a place called Rode Heath. There is a decent looking pub just next to the bridge and I am going to treat John to an early Fathers Day meal there in a bit, as tomorrow we hope to be putting some miles behind us and don't know what pubs might be on our way!

Today was not just wet and cold but also very windy and I was very proud of myself managing to control the boat whilst travelling NE and trying to manouever (no spellcheck and suspect that is wrong) into a lock at a 45degree angle whilst the wind was blowing hard from the SW. I managed to get it in all on my own and made John comment on how brave I'd been in his log! Not bursting into tears and screaming at him was a vast improvement I felt!

Here you can see the other lock alongside the one I am in. Ahead there is an aquaduct that actually takes the Macclesfield Canal OVER the Trent and Mersey! Why they didn't just put the junction on the other side is beyond me but there you go!

This is about half way down the locks we did today and there was very little room between them, certainly not enough for 2 60'ers to cross. Luckily there was nothing else around and so while I was in the upper lock descending, he ran down and opened the gate for this one so that I could just sail from one to the other. The wind was not quite so ferocious at this one thank goodness.

This was the view from the same lock - you can see we are still quite high above the Cheshire plains! we are now quite a bit lower but still some to go in the morning. The forecast is quite promising apparently - we shall see......

Now off for a meal.

Friday, 15 June 2012

15th June '12

I hardly know where to start today..... don't expect coherence (probably too late to warn this if you're a regular reader!)

Last night we decided to go out for a quick walk with Paddy. I fancied going up to see the village of Wedgewood since when the factory was built in the late 1930's they built 100 houses for the workers plus a church and school. John had spotted a footpath on the map (going in the other direction) so that's where we went. It started OK the footpath had a good surface although appeared to be little used. Suffice it to say it deteriorated as we went along to the point that although the arrows pointed in the direction we went, we couldn't find the exit to the field. We went through a gate leading to an obvious farm track and so we followed in the direction we wanted to go. Many cow-pats later we came to a farmyard with no obvious exit and so had to re-trace our steps - we'd been out for about 3/4hr by now and the drizzle was getting heavier. As we went through the field before the track .... what should we see but a stile with arrows - the one we had missed earlier (heaven knows how). Anyway we decide rather than go back the way we knew we would continue onwards (why, I ask myself?) and we find our selves on a road with a signpost to the Wedgewood factory so we go that way. Eventually we get back - over 1 3/4hrs later, tired, wet and (in my case) pretty miserable.

During the evening the wind increased rather worryingly and we had the grand-daddy of storms overnight with tremendous winds and torrential rain, Paddy was terrified and I can't sleep in high winds so the two of us spent most of the night sitting on the settee waiting for it to improve. John went out at about 3am to tighten the ropes and promptly went back to sleep, Paddy and I went to bed a bit after 4!

At 8.30am it was dry and calm and the sky looked reasonable so we ignored the weather forecast since it's been wrong so often lately. Bad move - we find ourselves going through Stoke in the pouring rain - nowhere to moor, even if we'd wanted to and both of us had had enough. After the last lock in Stoke we stopped to have lunch and dry out a bit.

Then - great excitement - we finally go past Festival Park which is the furthest north we have cruised in the past and enter waters new!!!!

Some really interesting architecture showing the industrial past in the area. The canal feels really different, it was very winding and much nicer than south of Stoke. We had a small incident with my hat! John suggested that I put up the umbrella (it has started raining again almost as soon as we set off again) and I tried but the wind was against me and while I was fighting with the blessed thing, my hat blew off into the canal. John went into reverse. I grabbed the boat hook and after a bit of fishing I managed to hook it up and it is currently drying out!! Whether it will ever be the same again I don't know but at least it didn't end up at the bottom of the canal. ( Iforgot to relate that John dropped a lock key in a lock a few days ago but managed to find it with his magic magnet - very impressive!)

We then came to Hardcastle Tunnel - do you remember our adventures in Braunston Tunnel? Well John had fitted a second headlamp to ensure that never again would he not be able to see in a tunnel, so we approached this one with total confidence. I'm not sure how long it it but it takes 45min to get through and there are extractor fans to keep the air sweet, which means that they have to shut the doors behind you - boats can only go through in one direction at a time. So we start out and the headlights shine up well and we can see everything beautifully. THEN..... about 20 minutes in BOTH lights go out. Totally unbelievable - I had already put all the inside lights on so there was some light but it was a LONG time before we got to the end. Poor John's nerves are shot to pieces and we are moored up just below the lock we came through after the tunnel.

We have decided to complete the Trent and Mersey and go up to Preston Brook. We have just gone past the junction to the Macclesfield and hope to do that another time. This way we will go up to Manchester and do the Bridgewater Canal and then decide where we are going when we get there.

Now we are going to have a quiet evening with a large scotch or two and stay here tomorrow morning so we can visit a Chandlers to buy something to hopefully sort our headlight problem out - and replace some lost fenders. Hopefully the weather will improve otherwise we shall just stay here for a day or two - we are at Kidsgrove for anyone who is following our progress.

The tunnel while the headlight was working properly!

We are now going downhill again - I am going to do some sums and see how much we have climbed in the last week. Watch this space......

Thursday, 14 June 2012

14th June '12

Weather looks quite good first thing so we set off about 10. Viv and David have already left but they said they were early risers.

We covered 2 miles and 8 locks through Stone in 2 hours, which is going some let me tell you! We were very lucky with the locks, most were set in our direction and some had boats just coming out and others waiting to follow us in which always makes things easier.

We then travelled a couple of miles further and are moored at Barlaston.

The Wedgewood factory is just opposite our mooring and so we decided to go and have a look. It was really amazing! It cost us £19 but that included a 45min tour of the factory, and entrance to the museum and craft workshops, shops and tea-rooms. We really didn’t have enough time to do it all, as we got there at 2.30 and it shut at 5. The trouble is you just don’t know what these places have on offer. If we had known we would have waited and gone in tomorrow. The museum was absolutely mind-blowing – I had Wedgewood overload eventually and had to leave as I couldn’t take any more in! The factory showed us how it’s done today and the craft area showed original methods. To be honest there wasn’t much difference. The time and labour that goes into each piece is awesome. I shall never again be surprised at how much it costs – I still can’t afford it – as the processes are so complicated and time-consuming.

We met Viv and David in there as they are moored just a bit behind us. It made a nice change to have someone else we knew, this can be quite an isolating existence at times.

Once again the weather is forecast to be horrible tomorrow with lots of rain, so if it is we shall stay where we are as the next days cruising takes us through Stoke, and we really don’t want to do it on a bad day!

This can be just seen across the canal from us - this gives you no idea at all how huge the place actually is.

The wind has now got up quite noticably, it's been bad all day - I had to stay at the back of the locks to keep the doors shut until water came in to keep them closed. My boat handling has improved immensely and I am now pretty good as long as no-one puts me under pressure!

13th June '12

Writing this in retrospect as we were overcome with events yesterday, and now it looks as if I may not be able to connect to the internet so it could be even later appearing on the blog.

Wednesday was a day of coincidences. We had a pretty quiet day with only a couple of locks and not much distance travelled. On the second lock, John was up chatting to the chap doing the locks as per usual and I was waiting patiently on the boat, as we left the lock John commented on the chap being from the south west. I looked over at the woman starting to move the boat out and discovered it was Shirley Crandon who used to work alongside me at NCMA and I hadn’t seen her for about 10 years. I don’t know who was more surprised, we exchanged greetings and both went on our merry way!

Then we arrive at Stone, merely to get some groceries and then we were going to be off to get through the locks and moor at the far side. Going up to the town off the canal with our trusty shopping trolley, we greet another couple also with trolley and obviously heading back to a boat. They stop us and tell us that if we go to the Co-op and spend over £25 they will deliver it to the boat!!! Result, the couple say that if we would like to we could stop into their boat on the way back and have a drink. So shopping was duly got and left at Co-op for them to deliver (free of charge I might add) and we went and met Viv and David properly and had a couple of whiskeys. During our chatting we discovered that their son had sung at Rochester Cathedral with Barry Ferguson who had been my choir-master in Shaftesbury! Anyway we invite them back for drinks with us that evening and so never move from Stone for the rest of the day!

I have started a new piece of lace but once again find the instructions very confusing. I need to sit down (sans the whiskey) and work it out for myself again I think. I am also adding bits to the crocheted bed-cover that doesn’t quite fit now that we have had the bed altered!

Tomorrow we plan to get through Stone and then decide exactly where we are going once we have passed Stoke. The weather forecast isn’t good but it’s been wrong most of the time so far, so we don’t know what to believe.

Sure that I've posted this photo before but still wanted to add it to show that we passed the halfway mark of the Trent and Mersey canal.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

June 12th '12

I don’t seem to be able to open up anything as the internet connection is a bit dodgy here so am hoping that I’ll be able to cut and paste this tomorrow! Finally got on-line so here we are!

We went and had a look over Shugborough Hall this morning. It’s the ancestral home of Lord Lichfield and was really interesting. There were the normal state type rooms and then there were the apartments that he lived in once the NT took over the building. Lots of pictures of royalty and friends from the 60’s and 70’s. Found John drooling over a young Joanna Lumley! Bless....

We had a lunch there – means I don’t have to cook tonight – result! And then we went around the gardens. There’s a whole other bit you can see but it’s not NT so we thought we might do that another time as we wanted to get back to the boat to move on a bit.

Fairly uneventful journey of only 4 miles and 3 locks, but we also filled with water and emptied the cassette, plus we went into Haywood Marina for a pumpout. I have to say that it was the best service we have ever had and would most sincerely recommend it to any boaters passing! Unfortunately John caught the edge of the exhaust outlet against something on the way in and we now have a bit of a gash in it but hopefully it won’t be too difficult to sort out at some point.

As some of you may know we had a pram cover fitted to the back of the boat last autumn and we are now very adept at getting it up and down at speed. We put the canvas in the boat while we are cruising so that we don’t damage it and now that we have done it 4 times we are ready for the Olympics if they decide to add such an event!

We have got as far as Weston on Trent. Not much further NE than we were yesterday but we just didn’t feel like continuing onto Stone tonight which had been our aim. We are trying to pace ourselves to avoid mooring in Stoke! It looks as if we are doing OK. One day to get as close to Stoke as possible and then one day to motor through it at speed (well possibly up to 3.5mph if we push it).

I really need to get some groceries so we shall have to stop on our way through Stone as we know we can shop there. Here at Weston it shows a shop on the map, but we tried it last time and it had 2 tins of baked beans on the shelf and not a lot else. I think I’d wanted something exotic like tin-foil so was completely out of luck. I dare say it may have changed in a year but it doesn’t seem to be that kind of place!

Prize of best swan parents has been awarded to a family with 9, yes NINE, cygnets seen on the canal. Wow.

We are moored on a bit of very poorly maintained tow-path and because of this no-one seems to use it so we were able to let Paddy off the lead and he ran back and forward between us like a maniac, I’d swear he was smiling!

I’m on a mission to use up lots of my knitting wool stash while we are out, so Nellie, beware, you are the proud recipient of the items made so far. If I find some blue then Halden you’ll  get something but whatever happens I’m going to reduce the stock so that I can start again next winter.

I’d also started lacemaking just before we set sail so I shall be doing some of that so everyone expect a bookmark for Christmas!

Due to lack of TV signal yesterday we played games last night, John totally thrashed me at Trivial Pursuit and then on the next game I beat him by literally one place, phew. How come he gets all the easy questions though to say nothing about the roll of the dice. I’m not bitter and twisted or anything but I feel my victory was far more deserved than his. I mean, On what moor will you find Brown Willy, and which Cathedral city is closest to the Glastonbury Festival site. He used to LIVE there for goodness sake!!!
I can hear the TV is on tonight (opposite of last night) and joy of joys he’s watching the football. On to the knitting.......

Approaching Shugborough from the canal.

The back garden! These give you none of the perspective of how HUGE the place really is.

Lichfield used this as a backdrop to many of his photos - so what's good enough for him is OK for me!

Here's the sign and ......

This is how far back I had to go to try to get it all into the photo - quite impressive I thought.

This is the pack-horse bridge that joins the estate to the village. I may well have put a picture of this on last year but I just think it's such a lovely structure that I couldn't resist. It's so narrow that you can easily touch both sides. The river is the Trent which flows parallel to the canal for much of it's length. As you can see it's in full flow - good news for boaters!

Monday, 11 June 2012

June 11th '12

Sorted! I can put pictures on when on the computer but not on the i-Pad. Phew.

Paddy has sorted himself out and is now watching where we are going and observing swans and sheep, etc with interest. He has once again been photographed and people are commenting on what a cute chap he is. As long as they are out of reach this is fine!

Paddy story of the day. We were moored at Handsacre and the bank is quite low compared to the bow of the boat. To stop him running out before I got my shoes on this morning, I shortened the lead (you may see where this is going). Once I was ready I opened the canvas and without being prompted he jumped out and disappeared! Straight into the canal as the lead was too short for him to get to the land. Poor chap. He definately hadn't intended an early morning dip and as it wasn't exactly warm I felt very guilty. He had a good rub down and has shown no signs of lasting incapacity.....

We have had a quiet day. The weather is dry but overcast and not exactly warm, so we have travelled about 8 miles or so and only 1 lock and are now moored outside Shugborough Hall near Great Hayward. We are now travelling decidedly northwards and spent some time last night looking at the maps and deciding where (ish) to go. We are continuing on the Trent and Mersey until we reach the Macclesfield Canal and then are going to head off NE to go up it and hopefully visit Congleton where we lived for the final weeks before the boat was ready. After that we are still somewhat undecided and will make the decision nearer the time.

We are more concerned with planning our route so that we can get through Stoke in a day without stopping. Those of you who read the blog last year will remember our somewhat unsavoury experiences there and understand our reluctance to loiter in the vicinity!!!

Halden with daddy Robert just before we left!

Nellie just before we left - expect both to have changed a lot when we next see them at the end of July!

You can just see the height of the water under Monks Bridge in the distance - this is the River Dove and the last time we went through it was just a trickle over mudbanks!

I took this one-handed while navigating through the Fradley Junction set of locks (next one under the bridge). the interesting thing here is the sign saying 'Wool Boat' I hope some of you knitters are reading this as it's dedicated to you! Unfortunately they are now heading down the Coventry and we are going in the opposite direction but they have a web-site and I hope to find them moored at some point in the future.

Nasty right hand bend coming up! Where's the canal I thought?

Turning sharp right!

a bit of reversing here.......

Amost back on the straight and narrow! This is west of Rugeley in case anyone is interested!

We are now on a stretch that we have done once before and are playing the 'was it here we saw...' game. It's suprising how often we can remember small details about places we have gone through such as 'we went to a pub down that road' and 'isn't there a pub up over there?'. hmmmmm

We are going to visit Shugborough Hall tomorrow when it opens at 11 so we are not likely to do much else. We are just below a lock so when we do start out we will get through that and then make a stop at Haywood Junction to fill up with water and pump out the toilet (we didn't do it before we left because John was sure it didn't need it and there was a horrible wind blowing making getting to the pump out a bit tricky!). Not even sure if we'll do that tomorrow or whether we might just stay here - somewhat depends on the state of the larder I feel.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

10th June '12

Brilliant nights sleep! Love being out on the cut. We went for a walk last night and discovered a group of young lads with a tent up across the tow-path set up for a nights fishing. They were really polite and sweet, checking that we could get around them etc. Saw them again this morning and don't think they caught a lot but they seemed to have enjoyed themselves. I will never understand the alure of fishing....

I walked Paddy to the first lock, about 1.5 miles while John brought the boat up. It was lovely. Sun shining and air warm - such a change from yesterday.

We got onto the river section at Wychnor to Alrewas and it was running very fast and high, against us and it was as much as the boat could do to get through it. John chatted to a chap at the lock who said his (much older and less powerful) boat struggled to get through and he was worried that he wouldn't make it at one point. THAT is why I don't like rivers.

We had amazing luck on the locks today. I think we did 9 and only one of them didn't either have a boat just coming through it or people there to help. It was great. Actually proper Canal and River Trust volunteers on two of the locks at Fradley Junction. Hence we have done over 8 miles and the locks in a bit over 5 hours - a record for us I think!

We are now at Handsacre - a favourite with us. Readers of last years blog will remember the pub 'The Old Peculier' (yes it's spelt wrong - so's the pub name). We plan on paying a visit later but I am so excited to have a good internet connection that I had to do this first.

The sun is still shining and things are still great.

9th June '12

well we got off - actually out of the marina!!! It was cold and windy and we were well wrapped up (you know how June can be) but we made it.

Yesterday to cheer me up we went to the pictures (do you say that now? is it the cinema or the movies? whatever we went) and saw Red Tails - definately worth seeing, however would suggest that buying the largest size of popcorn is not a good idea. Felt decidedly sick all evening.

Anyway, we got out about 11am and promptly stopped at Willington to get paper, lottery and milk. That done we started properly on our way, covering very familiar ground, remembering previous trips along the canal and basically acting like a couple of old farts (so out of character I hear you say).

We were stunned by the level of the water in the River Dove - previously it was barely a trickle and now it's over the banks and covering quite a lot of land either side. Hopefully this is good news for canals and rivers generally, we need the water.

I discovered that taking the boat in and out of locks is fairly painful with a frozen shoulder (my right one is almost half way through the 18 month process) but have decided that painkillers and possibly some alcohol will probably help it. Managed to bang the boat a bit going into the first one but I got better through the day!

Paddy has forgotten how to be a boat dog I think. He was wearing his life-jacket (more for warmth than anything) and kept giving us 'tell me why we are doing this? I'm very cold and fed up you know' type of looks. He spent much of the time winding his lead around my legs meaning I had to spend equal amounts of time getting untangled. John felt that he would be alright off the lead but somehow I couldn't bring myself to do it - visions of him falling/jumping in were prevalent in my thoughts.

We got to Barton Turns - some of you will be nodding knowingly at this point and saying 'not bad for a first day' others will be thinking 'what is the woman on about? how are we meant to know where that is?'. Well basically it's 10 miles and 4 locks away from where we started, on the Trent and Mersey Canal in a south west direction. Hope that helps. We took about 5hours or so to do this and ironically we had driven past here yesterday and it's about 20 minutes down the road!

Still not worked out how to add pictures but will persevere.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Setting out again!

Well today's the day! After various setbacks and perfectly good reasons to stay in the marina, we are finally going out and exploring new parts of the system....... At least we were until the weather warning, solid rain and gales expected today! Someone up there doesn't want us to go, why I ask myself? Well more to the point I moan... At John... Poor chap it's not his fault but someone has to bear hey he brunt of my disappointment, and he's here. I was bought to my attention that I've written nothing on here since Oct, well basically thats because we've been in the marina and I see this as essentially a record of our travels (or not as far as today is concerned. Anyway to bring everyone up to date, Tom and Francesca returned fromm Korea and stayed on the boat for 10 days or so until they found a house. We've had various visitors both on the boat and at the Bubble. Halden Owen was born on 7th Feb. a day late and weighing in at 8lb 5oz. Then Nellie Harman arrived on 1st April a few days early and 8lb 3oz. Both are totally beautiful as one would expect, also very intelligent and well ahead of all the goals that they set for babies now. I was 60 in March and consider the whole year dedicated to celebrating the event! We went on holiday to the Carribean in May which was amazing, and would love to go back. I have now discovered that I need to re-learn how to add pictures! Why do they do this? More to follow (I hope) Ps a decision has now been reached that we go out tomorrow unless things improve hugely. (lots of bad words here... Add your own on may behalf)

8th June '12

I've written a long piece and now its lost in the ether somewhere, they have also 'improved' the site and now I can't see how to upload pictures! Bear with me....I'll be back!