Monday, 8 October 2012

Coming Home

Monday 24th September to Sunday 7th October 2012

25 Miles, 16 Locks for this fortnight

Totals: 1405 Miles, 1142 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 96 Swing Bridges

The weather turned a bit for the worse on Monday and we didn’t venture far from the inside of the boat – our combined need was to be here ready for Stella’s mum to arrive by train on Monday afternoon – mission accomplished.

Our plan was to then move on Tuesday down through thr stop lock and back onto the Trent & Mersey and through the Harecastle tunnel.

Someone didn’t tell the weather people that we were moving and it started off poorly – which was the highlight of the trip.

We had gone no further than a few hundred metres when there was some strange noises from the engine compartment, followed by some spluttering followed by the engine almost stopping and then coming back to life – this cycle between life and dying went on for a bit as we needed to get about 500 meters further along to be able to moor up and change the fuel filter – we were lucky enough to know what the problem was most likely to be.

However not lucky enough to know where the spare filter was – so it was a matter of trying to clean out the old one – all to no avail – then a eureka moment as I remembered where I had stored it. New one installed and the engine was as good as “new”.

Boat was working fine again; we were off and happy to be moving again – pity that the rain was still persisting.

This was all still new territory for nb Isobel and crew – the Hall Green stop lock looked like it was going to be a problem with the top gates leaking as abadly as though a paddle had been left open until a River Trust person literally kicked it back into place.

As we reached the tunnel, the sun, which had been having a sleep in decided to show its face – just as we were about to go underground through Harecastle.

After the Standedge tunnel any other is now going to be anti-climatic – and so it was here – plenty of room on each side and only 35 minutes.

True to form as we emerged the sun deserted us and the rain re-appeared – time to fill with water and then head down to Westport Lake to moor up.

Mike, Stella and her mum Anne were off the next morning by about 9am as they wanted to see a few places before Anne was off home on Friday, so we saw them off. As for us we wanted to do a bit of shopping and see a few things in Stoke before we left, so it was a short trip down to Festival Park, where we have moored many times before and always felt very safe.

During the short trip from the lake to the park we were able to get a pumpout and a fill with diesel and after our time was up at the park we watered up before heading down the locks, then past Brittania Stadium and on to Wedgewood.

No matter what time we come through Stoke heading south or through Stone heading north Diane is always able to manage to have us moored up at Barlaston for the Sunday roast – one of her favourites – and of course it was no different this time.

We had in the process of moving from Stoke to Barlaston changed our minds about going up the Caldon – two reasons – firstly the weather reports were not great for the week and secondly the Stone Food and Beer Festival was happening on the following weekend.

After Barlaston, it was moorings at Stone above the top lock where we were able to go over and see Tina Paramore and arranged dates for the boat to be blackened as well as getting the Mykuni serviced and a full engine service carried out.

We moved down 3 locks and caught up with Mike and Stella again before the Festival and then it was another couple of locks and we were back home in Aston Marina – it really did feel like coming home – we had been feeling like we were home as soon as we emerged from the Harecastle tunnel (so well do we know the canal from there to Stone).

After getting everything squared away, including perfect reversing back into the mooring point (self-congratulatory pats on the back), Diane had the washing machine in action and hose out filling the water tank; electricity cord plugged in – she was in her element.

The Festival was the next point of attention and we had a great time there and at the Farmers Market in the High Street.

Plenty of beer and food to sample – we were there until closing time at 8pm – it is well worthy of a visit – but you will have to wait until next year.

As seems to be the case increasingly, there is always someone ready to do something which endangers the safety of others and then wants to tell you how good they were.

We were sitting down on Saturday night, Diane in the lounge and I was at the dinette, when we heard a boat outside – it was about 8:15pm – engines suddenly revving quite hard – Diane peers out the front and there in almost complete darkness is the rear end of a boat just feet away from us trying ever so hard to be moving forwards but inching closer backwards towards us – fortunately they missed us, but the manner in which it was completed was entirely luck rather than any good management on their part.

Having had the need to travel in the dark just a few weeks ago when we were going up the Marple flight, we know how careful you need to be and how slowly you need to proceed – we didn’t have other boats to negotiate around, nor did we have a vast expanse of the dark marina (without any end of pontoon lighting) to visualise our location – which is almost impossible. So why oh why would anyone proceed at any speed under those circumstances and when confronted later think that I should be thankful that it was only an almost hit case (instead of actual) and that I should not have any concerns – as well as that it was a trading boat – restaurant/pub boat.

Anyone mooring near or simply being near (travelling or not) the boat Sir Tomas Brocklebank (no link provided - I am not going to advertise his business), do not assume that he cares about you – his actions last Saturday night and his subsequent explanations leave me shaking my head in amazement at the irresponsibility that was shown.

Most insurance companies will void your policy if you cause an accident whilst travelling in the dark, so who would have paid if we were hit – the trip boat or the marina or both – they would have both been involved in the legal arguments.

Needless to say that when the marina office is open I shall be talking to them about it;  they must have an understanding to allow the boat to be in the marina at all.

For the next few months the blog will be updated every fortnight

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