Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Monday, 15 October 2012

15th Oct.'12

We've been back a week and John has already covered the bumps and bruises from the cruise! There were quite a few - oops. I feel responsible for quite a few of them from the Llangollen locks, but there again I can't be blamed for all of them.

Paddy has had a bath and is ready for his stay at the kennels while we are off in Crete for a week. I am all packed and ready and John is aware that he's going! He's printed off details of all the buses we'll need to get from the airport to the resort - I just hope that the bus signs are not in Greek since I have a distinct feeling that they don't use our alphabet! This may well be the last holiday we have from the timeshare, as I think it's time to let it go - if anyone's interested let me know!

John has just had a lovely pack from Mikron (the canal theatre group) as he won a goody bag in their raffle. We are currently listening to the CD, and very nice it is too. There were other bits and pieces as well so altogether a rather nice prize. The tea-towel had a picture of Caroline on it, she's our Chloe's best friend and has performed with them this year! It's a bit strange seeing her there - I'm not sure I'll be able to use it.

We've seen our little Nellie! who is not so little now - we saw a boat coming home called Nelly Rose - I took pictures but not sure where they are - on the phone and for some reason they haven't downloaded.

Here's our little tiger at 6 months!

Blogs are strange things I've discovered - I thought I had a pretty good idea of who was reading it but it turns out that Kev and Angie and Ian and Sarah from our pontoon have been reading it this time. There ought to be some sort of register -I'm fascinated to see who reads it and how often they dip in. I'm just having fun writing it but love to know that someone is mildly interested!

We had a social in the Marina on Saturday and we managed to meet some new people, they are occasional visitors but I hope we see more of them. So Graham and Mandy and Chris and Griff come and see us if you're around and read this.

Next time will have some more exotic photos I hope and will be in about a fortnight. See you then,

Friday, 5 October 2012

5th Oct. '12

We're at Alrewas, and going to have another Indian meal tonight - the one the other night was excellent but I swore that we would stop and have another one here since this is where we were after my 'fall' last trip. The Dansak was to die for....

The journey today has been uneventful and full of shared memories of the places we've been past before. I went below to make a drink after getting through the first lock of the day just after Little Haywood and when I brought it back up, John greeted me by saying that 15seconds after I went down, he saw a kingfisher. I looked and looked but didn't see one. Then again he spotted one that I missed and although I searched the reeds it had flown into I didn't see it. Finally though I did spot one, fleeting it's true but still very special.

Fradley was as quiet as I'd ever seen it - I was filled with admiration for a young chap who was steering a long, old working boat in the junction at Fradley. He absolutely had it perfect and turned it without getting near knocking anything although space was tight. The older man on board at the bow told me he'd been doing it since he was 7 and was pretty good by now. Also very kind on the eyes ladies - no photo as it would have been a bit obvious, just believe me!

We did exactly 6 hours today, the same as yesterday and tomorrow we'll be home.

looking down from Middle Lock to Junction Lock - the boats you can see are all moored there permanently - the telling bit is that there are no boats in the middle of the pound - you can just see the old boat (with fit helmsman) coming out of the lock in the distance.

This is the view looking out through Pendlebury Rocking (I seem to be having some luck with pictures so will add a few backdated ones - not necessarily in order)

Not what you expect to see in a lock! this is Watling Street crossing the Staffs and Worcs canal and I'm obviously about to go down under the bridge - I just couldn't resist this!

This is also next to the lock by Watling Street - there's a small gift shop on the ground floor - didn't realise it was there until I was in the lock so I didn't go in to see what they sold.

You can just see the blue motorway sign - this is the M6 that runs parallel to the canal for a mile or so. I can't believe we've never seen a boat while we've been travelling along the road! Just goes to show how little we see of what's around us when we're driving - even in the motor home where you get to see a lot more because of being that much higher.

At the side of the lock there is a passage-way, where the horses would have been led to rejoin the canal on the other side of the lock. Have you noted how blue the skies are in these photos - it was 3rd and a lovely day although this was when I was doing my Margaret Rutherford impersonation and running a temperature so not really enjoying it as much as I could have.

Here's the M6 crossing the canal - I have a feeling that we might have noticed this on the southbound journey but never spotted it going north.

As a contrast to the previous picture, just after that motorway bridge we went under this one - so elegant I thought.

Another bridge that came as a bit of a surprise - it's rather like the snake bridges on the Macclesfield but not quite the same design.

This is the same bridge from the other side of the bridge - the surface would have been stepped like this so that the horses wouldn't slip while going up the slope.

We're up to yesterday (4th) now - this sign was over the door of the former lock-keepers cottage by the lock - note the precision - not just miles but furlongs as well!

This was the opposite side of the lock and John was investigating an old mile-stone - we saw none of these anywhere else along the canal.

Some canals have their bridges named, some have them numbered - the Staffs and Worcs has both! very impressive and they are ALL like this!

This is Tixall Wide - there are 2 possible explanations for this - one is that the landowner only agreed for the canal to go across his land if they dug it out to look like a lake and the other is that the builders made use of a pre-existing lake when digging the canal. Take your pick!

You can see Lady Arwen just mooring up on the right there - we haven't seen them today. It transpires that they shared locks with Norwyn and Sheila so we've been looking out for them to pass on best wishes. The canal community is surprisingly small considering how many of us there are!

Here's Great Haywood Junction - the boat on the left has pulled in for a pump-out and I think they are very brave - lots of hire boats come through here! This is the northern end of the Staffs and Worcs where it joins the Trent and Mersey - back on home ground for us.

Back to the Llangollen - here we are crossing the River Dee on the Aqueduct.

This is the slow boat in front of us entering the junction at Trevor - it's a very tight fit and for quite a stretch beyond it's very narrow - heaven knows what you do if something else is coming the other way as there's nowhere for pedestrians to go to look-out!

Llangollen hosts the National Eisteddfod and this is the entrance to it.

This seems to be the extent of my adding photos tonight, but I feel it was a success, especially compared to recent attempts. Hope you've enjoyed them!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

4th Oct '12

Hoping to say this with photos:

This is known as Pendlebury Rocking - it's one of the first things you come to on the Staff and Worcs after Autherley Junction. Not only is it narrow but it's also quite shallow, so going is a bit tricky. Note that John is wearing gloves - it was cold and because I was feeling rough I'd wrapped myself up well. For someone who hates layers I was wearing a long sleeved cotton T-shirt, a chunky fleece, a padded body warmer, my boat coat and then a hat and a scarf wound around my neck - I looked like a poor imitation of Margaret Rutherford! At least I was warm (ish).

I have been trying for the last 15 minutes to up-load another picture - no joy. So much for every picture paints a thousand words - I can write them quicker than I can get them!

Anyway - we have now reached Great Haywood Junction and are moored once again in sight of Shugbrough Hall. Not a bad place to be. The Trent doesn't seem too bad and we can find nothing on-line so are presuming that the river section is open.

We enjoyed our brief trip along the Staff and Worcs and will definitely come back and do it again and this time continue right down it. Lots of people seem to rave about the Llangollen and the Shroppie but we have both decided that we prefer the S&W.

We have apparently missed seeing a kingfisher twice today. We have been following a boat called Lady Arwen right along the canal today and at the last lock they said that they had just seen one flying across the bollards and into the trees. We looked but never saw it. Then a boat came through after us and we told them and they had just seen one below the lock. Again we looked but didn't see. That means that we have travelled all down the Shroppie without seeing one and they are regulars there and now we have missed at least one here. Bother!

We came through Tixall Wide today which again we had heard about but not seen. Probably not quite as impressive as we had expected but nice none the less.

The sun has shone continuously today and once again we have been able to moor the boat in the dry. It was meant to have been very cold last night but we didn't notice. The weather is supposed to be changing tomorrow but opinions differ depending on who you speak to. If it's really awful we'll stay here I expect otherwise we shall head further down the Trent and Mersey. Theoretically we could be home in 2 days but that's pushing it for us - also means early starts so it's not exactly likely is it?

My cold has lifted during the day and I'm now feeling pretty much back to normal - John's never came to anything - no Man Flu thankfully. The Beechams and the whiskey seem to have done the trick - now we need an off-licence!

It has clouded over considerably since starting this so we shall have to see what tomorrow brings. Sorry about the pictures once again.......

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

3rd Oct.'12

Writing this on the iPad as I don't feel up to getting the computer sorted. Have had a temperature today, so can't wear contact lens, hence quite tired.
We have had a great day, all things considered. We left early (for us) and have travelled 18 miles and done 7 locks, all in 7 hours! We are now moored at Penkridge, and John is off to find an Indian takeaway shortly! Just what the doctor ordered!
It has stayed dry and been sunny most of the day, which was a bonus. It's meant to be ok tomorrow but then horrible again, so we want to get some miles behind us.
We are now half way up the Staffs and Worcs canal, and its rather nice. Very winding, obviously one that follows contours, rather than go in a straight line. I took some pictures, but can't load them from here today, will have to catch up when I'm a bit more together.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

2nd Oct.'12

Had a very early night with Beechams Powders and felt a bit better today - John now feels a bit rough so we are both drugged! Luckily the early rain stopped and we started off in sunshine. A cold wind but at least dry.

We have cruised as far as Wheaton Aston where we were going to stop for fuel (it's the cheapest on the system apparently!) and water plus get rid of rubbish and empty the cassette. I had a parcel to post for Rachel's birthday next week so we walked up to the village only to find the PO shut for lunch. One of the problems with the canal is that you lose all sense of time (and day and date) so it hadn't occurred to us to check. We also found the Spar shop for a few necessaries and then the rain started in earnest. We got back soaked so just moved on a bit from the mooring to do all of the above housekeeping chores mentioned. Time had now moved on so I dashed off back up to the village to post the parcel and came back even more soaked than I had been before. I more or less refused to go any further!

We are now moored with the front of the boat JUST over the section where you shouldn't moor to allow room for the water etc. but there are 3 separate water points and there's a long stretch and in any case I felt so awful I just didn't care. If John hadn't agreed to moor here I think I'd have just laid down and wept.

The good part is that Autherley Junction is only about 7 miles down the canal and then we'll be on the Staffs and Worcs which is only 30 miles or so long so in a few days we will be at Haywood Junction and back on the Trent and Mersey. Home is now in sight (sort of) and once again, much as I love being out on the cut - I do look forward to getting back to the marina.

No photos today and unfortunately not enough signal to upload any from previous days! Sorry.

Monday, 1 October 2012

1st Oct.'12

Wow - October - we are off on holiday in 18 days time to Crete! Some sun to look forward to!

Once again no internet yesterday so I'm making up for it today.

On Sunday morning we were rudely awoken by a trad. boat making a lot of noise on both the locks either side of us - John got up for a pee and I asked what the time was "6.30, and it's a b....y Sunday" was the reply. I felt strangely awake and so after a short while I got up to make a cuppa. Checked the clock and it was 8.45 - his watch was 1.5 hours slow!

We'd been to the Shroppie Fly (shortened version is the correct one) the previous evening only to find that a band was going to play - we hung on but they didn't get started until about 9.30 (I was more than ready to be back in bed by that time) and they were very good - a Bob Dylan tribute - all older than us and obviously having done this for at least the last 50 years. Unfortunately they went a bit overboard on the sound level - I have a lot of Bob Dylan stuff and he is not noted for his ear- splitting quality. When the mouth organ came into play it became too painful to cope with so we came home. Shame really - we'd have both liked to have stayed for the music but value our ear-drums (and John's almost deaf as it is!!!!).

John had stayed up the previous night and also this one to watch the golf so he was becoming increasingly tired and we had the rest of the flight in front of us. I'd seen a volunteer going up the locks just as we were about to get ready and was hopeful of some help. Naturally the locks were against us most of the way and we didn't see a boat coming towards us until 3 from the top (we had 12 to do) and we found the volunteer at the same time. Great. Still the weather was a lot better than forecast and so it could have been worse. We did the 12 locks covering almost 2 miles in 2 hours! What a team.

We then did the next flight of 5 and stopped for lunch. After some discussion we decided to call it a day as John was tired and we were on a good mooring and there was a flight just the other side of Market Drayton which was about a mile away. Tomorrow we felt was another day.

Today we left a bit late as neither of us had a good night - the golf is now over and Europe beat America so all is well in John's world! Showers had been forecast and sure enough they came and went a couple of times while we were going through the locks.

There was very nearly an interesting incident on the locks today. There was a boat going up before us and then one came along behind us. The woman doing the locks came up just as we were about to leave the first one and she seemed a bit uncertain but John had a quick chat and we went on up. When we got to the third lock I looked back and the top gate for the lock below had opened and so John ran back down and shut it as she arrived to open the paddles to empty the lock. He was back up and shutting our lower gates when I saw that the gate had opened again on the lock below and she was gaily opening the lower paddles. For those of you who haven't got a clue what I'm talking about basically she was doing a very dangerous thing that could empty the pound above and cause flooding in the lower pound. John once again set out to run down as she couldn't hear our shouts or the boat horn. Luckily the gate - which had completely opened, shut itself while he was on the way and so he just came back up - she was totally oblivious to all this going on. Locks can be very dangerous things in the wrong hands......

We had the narrows which last time we came through reminded me of a Tolkien landscape as it was very dark and gloomy  - today the sun was shining in the cut and it was completely different. We only met one boat (straight after a bridge on a narrow section) and emerged happy.

Coming towards another bridge a bit later we saw a boat coming through so John pulled over and as the boat went past we became stuck on some rocks. John manoeuvred us backwards but we kept finding the rock ledge and suddenly the tiller swung right over and we were well and truly stuck. We tried gunning the engine and I jumped up and down on the off side and John used the pole. Eventually doing all 3 at the same time meant that John was able to pull the tiller free and thankfully we were able to get going again. It was definitely the worst grounding we had encountered. We noticed the boat following us keeping well away from the towpath side as they came through.

We had hoped to get to Norbury Junction today but I started feeling a bit poorly - my throat hurts and I feel full of cold. We were also following a boat whose occupants were presumably using a guide dog and going rather slowly along a perfectly good straight (for a long time). Then it started to rain heavily so we gave up and are once again near the Anchor just north of Norbury. Tomorrow we will call in to fill up with water and empty the cassette and get as far down as we can. I'm taking Beechams and will have an early night I think, and wrap up well in the morning. Incidentally as soon as we moored and got the pram cover up the sun came out and now it is still lovely over an hour and a half later.

A rare sight - a volunteer on the locks - unfortunately not there for us....

Another rare sight - a boat coming out of the lock in front of us....

The Shropshire Lass - seen in Market Drayton - we both did our helmsman's courses in this almost exactly 2 years ago.

Some Mandarin Ducks also seen in Market Drayton - pretty little things.

Sunshine make the cutting look very different!

This was John down the weed hatch with some of the debris he got out of it!

Thought I was on a roll then and was going to go back and put some more pictures on but it doesn't seem to be happening.....