Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The cruising season is now underway

Thursday 23rd March to Sunday 2nd April 2017

We left the mooring at a not too early hour – at least for us at any rate – just after 8am – did the swing bridge and the turn at the junction and the first lock – then whilst Diane headed down to set the next, it was a quick stop at the services for Elsan duty.
Rounding the corner through the junction - it may look like a collision with
the bank was likely but I assure you it was around and straight into the lock

Surprisingly, on the way out I spied Martin heading down for the same job – his was made more difficult because they were heading the other way and he had a longer carry than I did.
Anyway we said more goodbyes and no doubt we will catch them up somewhere this year.

We managed to get through the next three locks and who should be cruising along but Gary and Carolyn on nb Inca – we had left the lock ready for them but that didn’t stop us both stopping midstream for a good chat – as you do, when you are boats passing in …. broad daylight – it was a lovely and unexpected surprise – but with another boat heading up toward the lock they needed to get going and so did we.

I spy with my little eye something beginning with I....

...Inca with Carolyn and Gary ready for a mid-canal chat - yes it was a bit chilly!

Alrewas was on our horizon for the day – not a huge cruise but sometimes you just stop at the places you want – well really you do that all of the time.

We do like Alrewas and found a lovely mooring just outside the graveyard of the church – no disturbance from the neighbours tonight.

The following morning it was a lovely fine and sunny morning - this is opposite
our mooring...

...and this was sun-rise

A bit of a walk around the village – not to see anything – just to stretch our legs a bit and then we were back on the boat.

The following morning and Diane got a call from Carolyn – “How are the moorings at Alrewas?” … “we are coming back to there (from Fradley)”.

Whilst they were cruising back we decided that we might do another walk around the village but this time we did so by following the Geo-Caching App – we have decided to give this a go and find a few of the hidden “treasures" around the place; enjoy the walking and have a bit of enjoyment looking for them.

Well to reward ourselves for finding some, we called in at the Alrewas Fryer for a pre-lunchtime snack – during which Carolyn got in contact to advise that they were moored up in front of us and were we anywhere close by – we were back there reasonable quickly and then we all headed back to the William IV pub for a drink and as it turned out lunch and a bit more of a chat – this time without the need to get to the lock.
A lovely way to spend some time on an early Friday afternoon.
Gary loves his ice-cream - the big kid that he is

During this time we arranged for a bus trip into Litchfield for the following day – Gary selflessly volunteering to look after Hamish, so I was to be left at the mercy of Diane and Carolyn – there could be harder things in life.

We both love Lichfield and it characteristic cathedral (three spires) and after the pre-requisite coffee following the bus trip, we had a bit of a wander – there was some shopping, the cathedral wandering, looking on at the gathering of members of the Staffordshire Regiment to celebrate an important anniversary of their formation – we presume that they have some special privileges with the city and their march through took priority over the local traffic – everyone was having a great time indeed.

Lichfield Cathedral

Upstairs in the private chapel

Lighting candles for mum and dad and Lauren

Once a forces man then always - they marched all in step 

A hastily taken selfie - these re-enactment guys in the background were
bearing down at speed

In the end we finished everything that we had come for and after a bit of a wait for the return bus we made it back – another boat was just mooring (nb Meredith – Sharon and Paul) – we all ended up on the towpath for a few drinks and more chatting (a boating requirement).
First drink on the tow-path for the year - perfect weather for this time of year

They seemed lovely people and whilst they were not able to be full-time liveaboards, as much as they wanted, they enjoyed their boating none-the-less.

The following day (UK Mothers Day) we were off heading further northwards and this time is was a goodbye to Gary and Carolyn (they would be heading back the other way); a stop at Barton Marina – just for a look around and a visit to the store there and then a late breakfast at the café; then it was onto Burton and we moored up at Shobnall Fields.

Perfect weather again - well lovely and sunny anyway - it was a bit chilly

and plenty of water around too

We decided that a couple of nights here were warranted; we had some things to seek out which we found; some walking to do – but as it happened, we didn’t get too much of that done on our second day – a painful heel on my left foot meant that under Nurse Ratched’s instructions I was confined to the boat, whilst she went down to the pub (no she really didn’t) – but she enjoys putting on that cute nurse’s uniform and getting back into her last day job – I particularly enjoy the sponge baths – but I digress.

After some rest it felt a lot better, but the next day she still had her stern face on and equally stern voice – I do like it when she is forceful – and she locked me inside to carry on working whilst she single-handed – at least until the elsan point and then to help with the lock (although she had it under control) – after that, I had convinced her that I should be allowed to stay outside.

We moored at Willington just on the end of the Winter Moorings – perfectly allowable – and again did a bit more geo-caching (it isn’t a big place); found the new location of the Co-Op (has it really been 3 years since we have stopped here) and Diane continued her evaluation of English chippery’s – this one got an average vote but it didn’t stop her from finishing the allocation.

Willington is one of those places (Berhampstead is another) where you can moor close to the railway line and the sounds of the trains does not affect you – even the freight trains in the middle of the night – and we both had a good nights sleep.

By this time we were on a bit of cruising schedule – we had to be in Shardlow by Friday morning (9am) – and whilst it could be done in one day, we were not so inclined to want to rush through it all – but two days was easily enough time to get there.
Our first stop was at Mercia Marina for fuel and a chandlery visit; we had hoped to catch up with Jim and Joan (nb Two Jays) whom we know from our Aston days, but they had buggered off on some flimsy excuse – apparently grand-daughters don’t turn 21 every week, but we would catch them on their return – just not here.
A mooring at Swarkestone was planned and then a walk down to the pub on the Trent River – I can’t remember the name at the moment – for lunch and enjoy the views and then a peaceful afternoon back on the boat – we did try to catch up on some of the programs that we have still to watch but not much progress was made.
It seems that an enjoyable lunch, followed by sitting in a comfortable chair, by a cosy fire has some type of hypnotic effect causing you to doze off – some would say that we were getting on a bit and that it is normal for older people – I just think that we have been doing super-human efforts lately (like reading and cruising) and were totally exhausted.
On the mounting block waiting to mount something

Thursday morning arrived – I am doing my usual day job things; Diane is in bed holding it down and reading on her iPad – other blogs and facebook entries – suddenly there is a bit of anxious alarm.
Seems that a car has gone into the canal at Cuttle Bridge on the Trent and Mersey the previous evening – that was just two bridges down from us (800 metres) and on our way – oh bloody hell – there was a need to assemble a posse to go and check on it; and whilst I waited for her to get ready, I surveyed the scenery (numerous times).

We met a fellow coming up from there on our way down and he advised that there must have been some incident at the bridge – the parapet had been almost demolished, police tape was around – but nothing else ???? – what no car – nope, no car.
That section on the tow-path is the middle part of the railing from the bridge,
and not too long this photo was taken there was a car in the water

We saw for ourselves that whatever had happened, parapet was demolished with a great deal of brickwork on the towpath but no signs of any car – it was clear to proceed – thankfully.

On return to the boat wewere ready to leave and after filling with water we locked down and headed off – we will say that as we went through the bridge-hole there was some serious scraping on the baseplate and a bit of vertical movement of the boat – something was still down there

The rest of the cruise was uneventful and we moored in Shardlow about 11:30 and – in full sunshine – lovely and pleasant.
Quite relaxed we were yet again in the afternoon – very very relaxed – it was a restful nap indeed.

The reason for the hurry-up to Shardlow – the “wire” basket in our Reflecs fire was now in two parts – one small and one larger – it was a bit fragile and we feared that if we attempted to remove it again for cleaning then it would not be in a fit state to go back in and therefore no way of causing the diesel to ignite – so we needed a new one and Paul at Lockgate Stoves was going to be there for us at 9am.
The basket that we needed for the Reflecs - when I take the old
one out I will put a photo of that up on the blog 

This type of thing is usual and having had 4 winters out of it was quite good – so with the wallet just a little lighter, but more importantly with the new basket we would be able to carry on – Paul was off to fit more units to new boats – he is extremely busy at the moment as more and more new builds are having them put in.

We were ready to move on – our internet and TV signals were not consistent and since there was nothing else that we needed to be here for we journeyed just a couple of miles down to Sawley and moored outside the marina on the public moorings.

The foot was feeling immeasureably better by now – not yet 100% - but Nurse Ratched allowed me to venture out again and we wandered up into the Sawley “village/town” area – just to see what was there and to raid the shelves of the Co-Op.
A Happy Friday drink on the way back and check out the marina – Diane simply cannot walk past a chandlery these days – has to take a look inside. I am convinced that when we are back in Melbourne she will do exactly the same.
The foot was a little sore again after maybe a bit too much walking over the past few days, so Nurse Ratched has devised a new means of taping my foot to relive the pain first thing in the morning – it mainly involves stopping my foot from bending forwards.
As I found out on Saturday morning it does work quite effectively, but as far as being able to easily get my jeans on, it is impossible to point the foot and actually makes the process a bit harder – I think she wants to keep me just half-dressed and in the kitchen all day making coffee for her.

There is a list of jobs that I need to get done before we head down through the next lock on Monday and onto the River Trent, so on this morning I started on these – one of them being to replace the seal on the weedhatch as well as doing the weekly check and maintenance.
I managed to get these completed (as much as I could do) fairly easily and we decided that a bus trip into Nottingham would be a wise use of our time – after all we would be there in a couple of days and wanted to check out the mooring places (we actually haven’t taken the boat here before - so a new city for us).

Diane with friend - they shuffled off after this yelling
"Exterminate, Exterminate!!"

The Castle House stands where the original Nottingham Castle used to
look out over the surrounding countryside

We did just that and a little more – note to self – please resist the temptation to go into cities on Saturday mornings – way too many people about.
But it was a lovely ride in and back – it is not in the least bit surprising just how much noise 4 teenagers can make, even when they are talking “quietly”.

We were really looking forward to Sunday – Jim and Joan had made arrangements and would be popping over to see us after coming back from their grand-daughters 21st, so it was certainly going to be a special day.

Another lovely sunrise - this time at Sawley

and hitting right onto the boats everywhere

We met them just near the marina café and adjourned into there for a cuppa and then lunch.
We managed to catch up on all of their news especially how very pleased and happy they obviously were with their mooring at Mercia Marina, and the more that the spoke about it the more envious we were that we hadn’t all decided years ago to moor up in there.

There are more and more marinas understanding that their livelihood is based on keeping their primary customers happy and being able to provide for their needs and not just the fly-ins who drive in for a quick visit on the way to somewhere else.
Activities, trips away, seeing quickly to problems and a 1000 other things.

They haven't aged a bit - Joan still as lovely as ever; Jim was exactly as we love him

They both looked really well and were in fine form – just such a great pleasure to see them both looking so well and so happy. It was all too soon and we were saying goodbye to them, but they did get us thinking!

25 Miles, 16 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge
YTD:  175 miles (282 km), 135 Locks, 13 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4807 Miles (7736 km), 3286 Locks, 137 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 175 Swing Bridges


  1. Hi Ray and Diane, Am I correct in thinking your heel is very sore, Ray? If it's plantar fasciitis then two things to deal with it (as David was told back in 2015):
    * get a golf ball and roll your foot over it often and for prolonged periods - over the sore bits and the rest of the foot
    * find and take the anti-inflammatories with tumeric in them (begins with c) - check it out on Amazon
    Both of these things really helped David - the doctor hadn't been able to give him any real help, but an NZ tennis coach we met through mutual friends at Teddington said the golf ball technique was what cured him, and Jaq Biggs told David to take the tumeric pills. Success!
    Looking forward to being back on the canals in a month! And hope we see you soon!
    Cheers and hugs to you both, M&D

  2. The pub on the river Trent is the 'Crewe & Harpur'
    and here's a link to the Cuttle Brook bridge incident...

    1. Thanks Kevin

      Yes that is the name of the pub and I hadn't seen that article but had heard that there was a serious injury


  3. Thanks Marilyn, my resident nurse diagnosed it as the same thing and I have been doing some stretching exercises to help, but most useful thing was some taping of the upper part of the foot to have the area extended whilst I sleep and reduce the pain in the morning - it has almost disappeared.