Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Wales - 6 Nations champions !!!

Tuesday 12th March to Monday 18th March 2013

5 Miles, 9 Locks – for this week

Totals: 1446 Miles, 1179 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 96 Swing Bridges

We are free – we have escaped the umbilical cord of the marina and now back out in the real world of boating.

This last few days had been about weather watch – we knew that we couldn’t leave before Thursday because the weather didn’t look the best – especially as the night’s were going to be quite cold – below freezing and the last thing that we really wanted to have to do was break through the ice when it wasn’t a do-or-die situation.

As it turned out Thursday morning brought with it a 2-3mm sheet of ice across the marina and we had to then evaluate our options. Do we stay put for a few more days and wait for an ice-free morning – the weather reports were saying it wasn’t going to happen for another week – or do we bite the bullet and go through – we had to get a pumpout and fill with diesel first – given that the pumpout hose is always semi-frozen in the mornings we would have to wait a little while.

Dot and Gordon on nb ewn ha cul needed a diesel fill and they were definitely going – they had paid up until Thursday morning, so we had one part of the equation solved when they swung past clearing a way through the ice.

Dot and Gordon leading the way - and also breaking the ice

The temperature went up a notch or two and some of the ice was melting – quick decision we would go out.

It took just 20 minutes to fully prepare everything; unplug the electricity cable; up fenders and tyres; down the pram hood and fire up the engine – we were off – we had a short length of ice to get through to where it had been cleared earlier; we negotiated that with relative ease; pumpout and diesel were done.

Elly joined Diane to cruise out to the first lock whilst I was left to settle the diesel bill and head over to Aston Lock ready for their arrival.

In the meantime Carol and Barry from nb Winton’s Folly were going to hitch a lift into Stone with us and met us at the first lock.

We took the opportunity to give the tiller to Carol for some instruction in steering – it seemed better to have someone not related to Carol to help her get some time under her belt.

As we have all done and as we all know, it just takes patience and practice to become able to take control of the boat – we then progress to proficient but none of us are experts – we can all learn and indeed we keep on learning.

Carol did an excellent job and one of the two blemishes was entirely my fault with some dodgy instructions – I got better – now, Carol, you have to get more time in on your boat and if Barry gives you any trouble he will have to deal with Diane.

A visit to the Swan is always on the agenda when we come into Stone and it wasn’t too long before Dot and Gordon joined us.

We were all eventually heading off to Weatherspoons for Curry night and there would be another 7 joining us for a last hurrah.

And so at 7pm 13 of us descending (or is that ascending) to the top of the High street – a last supper gathering – before we literally headed our own ways – some north and some south and others out and back in after short trips.

It was a replay of the last pie night at The Three Crowns – just the venue had changed – and as usual we really had a good night.

Morning came along and with it a little bit of rain, Banjo would have preferred a torrent so that he could stay in but he was off to the dog clippers for a short back and sides.

Diane on her way there met and spoke with a lovely lady from nb Invincible – who are also in Aston Marina – but in her haste to drop off Banjo forgot to ask her name, so hopefully we can catch up with her again when we get back.

After Banjo it was my turn for the trimming operation and I also managed to get the beard trimmed as well – saves a bit of a job later – as Denise (the barber said) – You now look as though you belong to someone”.

We spent Friday evening with Lynn and Phil for some after dinner drinks and a few nibblies – and met Caroline and Stuart from nb Catkin – they are selling up and moving back down to the south-west to  be closer to their family and their grandchildren – such a shame about having to sell the boat as well – they have been boating since 1973.

Saturday was 6-Nations day and we were back with Lynn and Phil to watch the match – Diane resplendent in her Wales cap – and ready to support the team. Phil was the “enemy” for the afternoon being the England supporter.

Diane was jubilant at the result whilst Phil took it in his stride.

We bid our goodbyes to both on Sunday morning as they helped us through the four Meaford locks – we are going to miss them whilst we are away; they will be eagerly waiting for their boat (nb Valentine) to go into and then come out of the paint shop with Tina Paramore.

As is the norm with Diane, when we leave Stone at any time heading northwards, we seem to always be able to time it all to be at Barlaston for Sunday lunch and this was no different – and of course the quality of the meal was up to the standard that she expects – we couldn’t really move much afterwards, so we relaxed in the comfy leather lounges and enjoyed a drink and read of the papers – it wasn’t long before we were joined by Dot and Gordon – a delay in receiving a text meant that they were not exactly sure where we were and so we not able to join us for lunch.

We had moored behind nb Uccello and Diane had spoken with Derek back in Stone a few days before, but this time we arranged to go over to get to know them a bit better – having never met them before – Diane had been following them on their blog for some time now.

Both Derek and Carrie know the previous owners of our boat – Dot and Derek (when it was known as Gypsy Rover – and had spent a lot of time travelling with them, and they were now interested in seeing how we had changed the boat around – having also been reading this blog.

We had an enjoyable couple of hours with them on Sunday night – hearing that they too were selling their boat and going back to being landbased – as they both said, after 6 years they were moving onto something new to do.

Dot and Diane had arranged a short walk to the Wedgewood factory on Monday morning and then Gordon and I would join them about an hour later and then continue on to Downs Banks.

In the meanwhile Derek and Carrie were coming over before they departed to have a tour of inspection on Ferndale – they remembered the way that it had been and were surprise a bit by the result of the changes that we had put in place.

I had thought that Diane and Dot had already left for their Wedgewood experience but it appeared that there had been a hold-up and Diane was still aboard nb Ewn Ha Cul and therefore we were both able to say goodbye to Derek and Carrie.
Carrie and Derek on Uccello - see you guys somewhere along the way
before it all finishes

The walk via Wedgewood (which was a no cost affair) and then on to Downs Banks was interspersed with proper footpaths, normal public footpaths and wide seas of sticky mud, but we negotiated our way there and back – probably passing along tracks which weren’t exactly public access – but we got back – had lunch whilst we were there and enjoyed the views.

Two buzzards overhead - enjoying the thermals

... and a heron also

This is only a training exercise as we prepare for bigger and longer walks on our travels.

The views from the top are absolutely lovely - there was a bit of a haze around but didn't stop us enjoying it all


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