Sunday, 27 April 2014

Old Friends

Friday 25th April to Sunday 27th April 2014

The last few days has all been about beating the weather - in particular the rain - much thought and expertise has gone into studying the prognostications of various sources of varying reliability.

Friday was the trickiest - we wanted to perhaps make it to Fradley Junction but we always knew that might be impossible - the rain was due between 10 and 11am, so our fall back would be Huddlesford with a nice little pub -The Plough - for Friday drinks photo.

An early start was necessary and all went well under prop trouble as we went through Hopwas - a short length of rope caused us to stop, but we were back underway very quickly.

Sure enough 10am ticked over and some telltale spots appeared as we passed The Plough - we have it down to a fine art and within 5 minutes we were moored up, hood up and feet up as the rain came down.

The Reflecs was fired up and pretty soon we were very cosy.

Later on we ventured over to The Plough for a drink - the problem with some pubs these days is that the no-smoking rules are slackly enforced - smoking in the entrance is not the same as smoking outside - firstly you have to walk through the smoke and secondly it is dragged inside with every person coming in - we only stayed for the one drink.

It was much cosier back on the boat and the air was clearer.

Saturday - today's goal would be Alrewas - today's hurdles - weather with rain suggested to be heavy in the afternoon; elsan trip and water tank to fill whilst at Fradley Junction.

Cruising was very pleasant with the sun bright but the air was cold - the thermals overcame the latter.

Surprisingly we made very good time without meaning to and we were at the junction in just 90 minutes.

Our marina neighbours, Wendy and David (nb Twelfth Night) were just coming through the swing bridge as we moored up for water - so a bit of a chat ensued, but they needed to carry on - as is usually the case.

For Andy and Sue - the name is almost too common
Finally fully watered and cassette emptied we continued, round the corner and down a few locks when we were met by Andy and Jean (nb Josephine) - also marina neighbours - they were moored above Fradley but had walked to Alrewas and were returning - as there were no boats in the immediate vicinity wishing to use the lock we stayed for a good few minutes catching up on things before all of us were off again.

Just a half later we were in Alrewas and moored up, still with no sign of rain.

For quite a while now Diane has suggested that when we are in Alrewas next we should walk over to the National Memorial Arboretum (we last visited back in 2008).

It was just over a mile away and with the now seeming prospect of the sunshine remaining for the rest of the day we ventured off - the only obstacle being the A38 - but we found a place where provision had been made for hardy pedestrians to cross with care and we did so - save for the long cherished cap which flew off and was crushed under the wheels of a fast passing car.

For those who haven't been the NMA, it is a memorial to all armed services personnel who have fallen in service to their country since WW2 and there are also dedications to various campaigns, military units and individuals.


This being just after Anzac Day, it was appropriate to be here.

The Gallipoli memorial

The walls at the top of this mound list the names of all service
personnel to die - since WW2.
There are too many names

One of the many air force memorials

We did battle again with the A38 on the return journey - this time there were no further casualties.

We collapsed on our return - from the walk and the dabble with A38 disaster - the late afternoon nap taking over.

By late evening we had still not seen any of the earlier forecasted rain - mmm, what is happening to the integrity of good forecasting.

Sunday morning came, a reasonably early start - this time so that we could stop at Barton Marina for a look around - we had been there twice previously and "she who must be obeyed" had related everything that she had seen to me after I had taken care of the needs of the boat and we were again underway - this time I thought I might see first hand.

Moored up early, but first thing was to ring our son, Mitchell, to wish him a happy birthday - after that we could have a good look around.

A cinema, pub, three cafes, butcher, farmshop, restaurant, shoe shop and a couple of gift shops - as well as a 300-berth marina complex and boat services - this is my idea of a marina - sure, we can see that they are catering for a lot of outsiders to be coming in, but looking and listening there appears a clear intent that everyone belongs.

We visited two of the cafes, wandered through the farmshop and had a look at the stalls of the monthly market (last Sunday of the month) before we headed off.

If we are back up this was in need of a marina mooring we would stay here.

Our destination for today was the Branston Water Park, which we reached in good time and without any threats from the weather.

I had settled down to install a tyre fender on the front, when a familiar boat approached from the north - Diane animatedly telling me it was The Two Jays (Joan and Jim) - a quick line thrown ashore and as we held the boat steady, Jim secured her to the rings.

Coffee was made and Diane set about installing the Viber app to Joans new phone and connecting her to the rest of the group who were in constant contact - another voice to join in.

Jim and I discussed football and the Hull match of the previous day as well as a few boat things before Diane, after success with the phone, turned the conversation to toilets - nothing unusual about that subject coming up.

The much anticipated rain did appear, but fortunately not in downpour mode until we were safely back on Ferndale.

After the rain and a bit of lunch, Joan, Diane and I decided to undertake the route march around the lake - Jim obviously had foreknowledge of the consequences of such an epic and sensibly stayed in contact with today's matches.

The path around the lake presented a pleasant walk with plenty to see and plenty of walking to boot!

Branston WaterPark Lake

Joan and Diane resting and supporting this tree


The leaf is not of the fig variety and also
a bit too small





We emerged at the end, back where we started - none of feeling the need to visit the inside of the pub - instead we eventually returned back to our own boats and that was about it for another full day.

This little fellow was overseeing and overhearing our conversations.

16 Miles, 9 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge

Totals: 2371 Miles, 1704  Locks, 77 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 147 Swing Bridges

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