Fortunately the weather prediction was for a dry day, but more importantly the ice had gone - just a few broken sheets hanging around.
We were up bright and early and had the boat ready to go by 7:30 - still a bit dark; daylight had started, but we needed the tunnel light on to make our way past the boats moored up - fires on but no lights -enjoy your lie in and any New Year's Day hangovers - we were clear headed - and needed to be.
We "hit" the top of the Atherstone Locks at 8:30 and despite every lock (yet again!) was against us, but by 10:15am we had cleared the 11 locks and the 2 miles that they covered - teamwork is the key and we were working well together.
After this it was all clear cruising - weather still clear, although very cloudy - and very windy. We were both pleased that it was windy rather than icy.
Good progress was made - through the normally slow Glascote locks, then Fazeley Junction - it was only after here that we found any other boats on the move and then just a couple.
All straight cruising until darkness was descending and we were closing in on Fradley Junction - finally mooring up at 5pm in the dark - 25 miles and 13 locks in 9 1/2 hours. Somehow we managed to make our way to The Swan - the first pint went down well, but then we found out the kitchen was closed - only two days in the year -Xmas and NYD.
Suddenly someone came in to pick up their pizza - lady behind the bar said no food - sorry but already arranged with the landlord - so, pizza oven turned on and we were in luck - neither of fancied cooking the beans and the toast.
And the other 3 pints each went down well also.
There were a few characters in there as well, so the banter was there and we had a good night.
We had discussed our Friday plans and decided that since we had less to go than what we had done on Thursday - so we knew that we were definitely in with a chance of getting the boat to Aston.
Once through the first two locks (well the first actually) we were past the stoppage due on Monday and daylight had appeared.
Then one more lock and a smooth 9 miles of cruising to Colwich Lock - past Armitage - a quick look at the loos lined up; past the Rugeley towers - the sun was out and warmed our backs; the wind from yesterday had dropped and we were starting to feel our fingers and toes again.
Up until this point we had managed 20 locks and every one of them had been against us - the remaining 5 locks would see no change in our luck with this.
But the sight of the marina made us feel decidely happy and with the time at just 3:30pm as we pulled we were very pleased with ourselves - a bit less happy with the marina being closed, so could not fill with diesel and the nominated mooring spot was occupied.
We did however moor up; secured the boat; cleaned up and washed the outside (as best we could).
Roly was there to meet us - having only just returned from
Gordon went off to drop off his gear and returned with Roly - and guess where we went - that's right - straight to The Royal Exchange.
Diane arrived - she seemed happy to see us and later on Dot appeared - almost like old times again - just a few other missing for the present time - but it was so good to be home and even better to have brought a home for Barry and Carol back with us.