Wednesday 29 March 2023

To there and back again

 We waited out the rain this morning, pulling the pins at about 10:30am.  I like leisurely mornings, David not quite so keen.  He was up dressed and wiping down the roof of the boat which in places is green.  

A boat did go past before 7am.  I peeped a look out the porthole and I'm sorry to say the helmsman didn't look terribly happy, but that's boating for you.

I forgot to say that down at Weston David had nipped up on the bike to his favourite shop that is to say Marks and Spencers Food hall at Stone.  Because he had done so there wasn't an awful lot of point in going up to Stone.  David was content to sacrifice Joules pub on the town waterfront with the nice beer.  So today a shortened run up the way to Aston Marina, turn in their entrance (I bet they don't like that) and be facing south to get sunshine, should we get any, in the catch in the afternoon.
We think all this out you know Reader...

Now then, as I'm learning to helm I get to ask David annoying questions such as "Why have you done that?"  and "Wouldn't it be better to have done this the other way?" mostly he's patient and explains his thinking but I do truly believe that men are hard wired differently to women. 
A case in point this morning, I helpfully suggested in passing that would you go slightly past the turning place, reverse into the entrance and bring the bow round with the help of the wind....
No was the reply.

As we made our way south again a glance behind showed a big black cloud that had appeared out of an almost blue sky 
Oh gawd says I, moor up at will!

Well we did get to an ear marked mooring, got the tonneau cover on, bingo.
Raining hard but luckily not for long.  The cratch warmed up by and by so we got books out, coffee served and some more serious relaxing.

We stayed thus for a few hours and at about 4pm we decided to walk towards the river Trent.  Here there's a footbridge over the river and then a raised walkway over some very wet boggy ground the sign called it a "New pond", the land is owned by a waterboard, maybe Severn Water... they seem to have been encouraging wildlife.  

Well I really wanted to see were the Lapwings in the shallows there as we had seen them before and also today on a field of stubble.  But no nothing, another twitcher was there looking too.  Even though it was chilly we followed our noses and kept walking, we walked to Aston village over the fields and during this walk we saw Swans flying overhead, heard a woodpecker but didn't see it and a pair of Buzzards, Grey Wagtails, Blue Tits, a pair of Buzzards.  But no Lapwings. 

It was a fabulous evening as the photos show how the weather changed.

The river Trent tonight, high but not flooding.

David on the river footbridge and the pond behind.

River Trent.

The path we followed through a field of Oilseed Rape, pigeon's favourite.

Trent and Mersey canal tonight, all peace and calm.

Late Lunch was smoked salmon and horseradish with a cheeky chenin blanc and chocolate. 


Sunday 26 March 2023

It's grey , but hey

The canals are wearing their winter outfits still.

There was discussion at length of proposed activities but mostly about the weather forecast this morning.  In the event it was decided. 
I refused to walk to the 
Dog and Doublet on the road at night so it was lunchtime or no time.
You see that although it's a minor road but the traffic uses it as others use Brands Hatch.  
Big lorries too.  

So we moved WaL up the canal in the sunshine listening to the birdsong as well as the odd train that thundered past.  
If you can believe it Reader we even needed our sunglasses.

It took about an hour and moored below the lock.  If you plant your solar panels carefully you can with the help of a gap in the hedge secure sunshine and therefore free power much  later into the afternoon.  

The moorings above the lock are attractive and often taken.  

So with lipstick applied and after some tut tutting at David's somewhat dirty,  but smart trainers we took our lives in our hands and walked to the pub.  I went first in the face of the oncoming traffic as I had the brightest coat.  
Glad to report we made there and back alive.
The pub is very lovely super staff, most attentive and great food.  David was excused somewhat dirty trainers as four men on the next table had high vis coats, cor blimey trousers and working boots.... (They were there for the afternoon)

Walking back on the other side of the road I was sad to see a considerable chunk of the canal bridge was been hit with most of the brickwork ending up in the lock cottage garden.  

Glad I wasn't walking there and I hope no one else was.  I'm in favour of capital punishment for the bashing of historic bridges.

It was a late lunch, and an early evening of reading .....
Such luxury.

I'm fully immersed in this

and David this

There's not a lot of stimulating conversation going on....

Lunch was warmed cauliflower salad, then hake in a gorgeous sauce and bakewell tart which wasn't a patch on mine or should I say Mary Berry's but you can't have everything.

Proper boating tomorrow, might even do two hours.....

Saturday 25 March 2023

Quick David, the kids are all busy let's go boating....

 So it came to pass that the family are quiet, the weather is fair to middling but most of all the golf calendar is not pressing.

New edition to the family, our fourth grandchild, Theo, a brother to Luca.  I especially like to cuddle newborns, preferably for hours.

We packed the car thoughtfully, then forgot as usual handy things but we'll bring them up next time.

In point of fact this isn't the first trip to a boat, no indeed we went to stay a weekend on The Boat Sharers own boat.  The fabulously smart, gleaming and beautifully refitted NB Caxton.  We all had tickets to see a pantomime in Oxford, But due to stoppages they could only get Caxton to Stratford-upon-Avon in the time available so we met them there and after the panto which Reader was truly hilarious in the very real sense of the word.  Then we drove back to Stratford which is approximately an hour north on the motorway not on a narrow boat.  It was most odd but very nice to be a guest on a boat instead of a host.

That Sir Ian McKellen and John Bishop it was brilliant.

So our time now.  The Lewis's (aka The Boat Sharers) are this week entertaining their family so can't come and play.  We decided just to potter out of Great Haywood marina and waft off northwards.  Dodge the rain if we can, got a supple of books, wine and wellington boots.

Firstly the boat was serviced that day it in turned bucketed down and  blew a hooley.

"Shall we go out in the morning?" Says I looking at the trees around the marina bending this way and that,

It will be fine says he.

I heard the marina manager say it will only be Share boats out today as it's so windy.

Well off we went with me on the bow holding onto the horn bracket to see if anyone was coming past the marina entrance but no, no one moving but as we approached the first lock just a few hundred metres up the canal the wind had dropped, the sun was peeping around the clouds, it wasn't nearly as cold as it was at home and frankly Reader everything in the garden was rosy.

Cloth in hand ready to wipe off the solar panels. First job in the first lock always.

Coming into Weston Lock.

White violets, David's father always picked his wife the first violets of spring.  It's a tradition I'd like to continue even if I have to pick them myself.... cough cough.

Big sighs of gratitude to be out, almost alone.

We have five nights, the forecast is telling us today that Sunday is going to be a right off with wall to wall rain.
We have tried in the past to visit all the really nice pubs along the route but you just can't fit them in.  This time we fancy The Greyhound at Burston, The Dog and Doublet and the possibility of that new place in Stone is it called Joules?  Anyway David says they do nice beer.

We approach Weston (Weston has another cracker of a pub called the Saracens Head but we've been before so are passing this one.  The moorings at Weston were marked by 
"Git Gaps" that is to say spaces left between boats preventing others from getting in.  We went on in the sure and certain hope that we'd get in just past Weston out on the countryside.  Well would you Adam and Eve it?  Two boats moored where we usually have the place to ourselves.  We do get in easily though, put on the tonneau cover, half a plan to walk back to the pub but we snuggled down, watched the sky cloud over later and really enjoyed the sound of the rain on the roof in bed later.  

Nice bit of hedge trimming here too.

A good night's sleep was had by all.

Supper was Cheesy Leeky Mash with sausages from the farm shop at Great Haywood.