Thursday, 25 October 2012

Final Cruising

Monday 8th October to Wednesday 24th October 2012

21 Miles, 8 Locks for this fortnight

Totals: 1426 Miles, 1150 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 96 Swing Bridges

We have settled back into the life of the marina quite well – water (on tap), power (on demand) and generally everything quite settled.

There were still the mundane things to take care of – fill up the diesel tank and pumpout the waste tank – not very exciting stuff but very necessary; it was whilst we were in the midst of doing this that Paul (nb Caxton) was chatting to us across the water – plans were made for the arrival later on in the morning of Mick and Elly (nb Parisien Star).

Coffees and cake on the deck and we all had a great time hearing about all of the things that we had gone through but which were awaiting Mick and Elly as they were about to head out from Minshull Church Marina on their voyage of discovery.

We especially had some fun at their expense (sorry guys) about some prospective new neighbours that they would have in their choice of marina – we must have given them a good enough going over that they had barely made it out of the gate when they decided that they wanted some more of the same for this winter – they have ditched the other marina for Aston – looking forward to you both coming in after your 6 weeks of travel.
Not looking too bad at the moment - the polishing has brought
the finish up to a much glossier look

We did however have some things to keep us going and in particular the renovation of the kitchen was always going to occupy a fair degree of our time. A visit to Stafford and we had sorted out the layout of the new kitchen and would be able to use ready-made cupboards and units; also happy with bench top, sink and other extras – all of this in a few hours – so we were on our way.

Whilst life in a marina for some time can be thought of as a bit on the boring side, it does in fact happen to be the reverse –  the conversations with others become longer; the number of people that we see constantly increases and the number of cups of coffee consumed is ever increasing.

Alway something different - a lone hot air balloon

We have started to walk with Andy and Jean (nb Josephine) – Wednesdays only – the need to keep active during this time of the year is important so that the weight does not reappear; so we will walk and talk some more.

We were also able to welcome back (not into the marina, but back to Stone) Lyn and Phil (nb Valentine) with whom we had shared some time in June and early July before, during and after the time in Liverpool. Very pleased to say that Phil is a picture of full health and fully recovered – they had completed the Four Counties (after a side order of Llangollen) – so it was lunch in Stone with both.

The short cruise with them into Stone had Diane longing for just one more short trip out; and as she is able to do, I complied with her wishes.

First a short cruise into Stone to see another kitchen place and this time we have exactly what we wanted as well as being able to quickly adjust the appearance in the future.

Then was a longer cruise down to Tixall Wide. This is the ideal place for the preparation, priming and painting of the gunnels – so the expectation is complete all of this in three days – at least 3 fine days and the weather report says that the next few days should provide us with that.

The trip down from Stone was relatively uneventful save for the sighting of my first Kingfisher – alas no photos of it unfortunately, but it was quite a sight.

We had been a bit unsure as to whether we would try to make it all of the way or moor up before there, but very glad that we went to whole way as the weather on Sunday was, after some early fog, bright and very sunny.
Perfect day at Tixall Wide

A well earned break after more polishing

We managed to sand, prime and apply one topcoat on each side (gunnels only) and Diane managed to polish both sides.

Shugborough Hall beckoned for us and so we were able to use our newly acquired National Trust membership and do a complete tour of the property – the lifestyle of a bygone era. Even though it was late in the season everything was open, but as we found out it was the last week before closing down for the winter break.
the front of Shugborough Hall

and the manicured gardens at the rear

Autumn is well and truly here

The return trip to Aston was again uneventful, but we did break the trip at Weston and then finished off the following morning – in the wind – would we try to reverse into the mooring – one half of the crew wasn’t too keen on it but she who must be obeyed suggested that we try it once and if not then we could go in forwards. Have to say that we managed it quite successfully with a fair crosswind and a bit of help from Andy who was there to take the stern rope.

Back safely and moored up – good to go out for some cruising but also good to be back.

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