The Last Of The Cuttings. 20th March

Wheaton Aston to Park Bridge 8

P1250705smMick got going with stocking up this morning. First a new bottle of gas followed by a bag of smokeless coal. The coal from Turner’s Garage isn’t branded, so we’re not sure what it will burn like and as only one bag fitted onto the trolley Mick refrained from getting more. We are reaching that odd time of year when the stove gets ignored for most of the day but needs reviving on an evening as the temperature outside drops away after sunset. Having plenty of coal is reassuring during cold periods, but travelling with winter stocks over the summer just gets in the way. Here’s hoping we have enough to see us through now to summer.

Our Sainsburys delivery arrived bang on time, the handy little lane alongside the boat meant that he could get close to us, especially good as he didn’t have a trolley with him. However the lane is quite busy, so we had to unload the crates quickly as the van was blocking the way. Once all was stowed we pushed off.

P1250709smOver the last few days there have been a few boats moving, but today there were plenty. The lock seemed to be in almost constant use and we were glad of the many water points at the services. We quenched Oleanna’s thirst whilst doing a load of washing and emptied the yellow water tank. A boat pulled by just as we were ready to push off and head up the lock, so we waited for them to get past a descending boat before pulling onto the lock landing. NB Ampere was on show at Crick in 2015 and is an all electric boat. We’d had a look round her back then, she certainly was very quiet. The chap at the helm said that we would more than likely catch them up as they were very slow movers so once we got close he’d move over and let us pass. Certainly by the time we’d emptied the lock and risen they were still in view up ahead on the straight, but we decided to pull in and have some lunch.

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They are getting good at false stops! What is a cat to think when one day they just move a short distance before I’m allowed shore leave, then other days they stop and start, stop and start and it’s an age before I get to feel grass and mud between my toes. I realised after a while that it was worth taking a nap today as they wanted to sit down rather than open the doors for me. I’d just drifted off dreaming of furry friends when I was ever so rudely awakened with the most incredible bone tingling noise! They just sat their laughing, but to me it was no laughing matter. A careful peek up from the sofa was needed. There were two HOWLers across the way, they looked similar to woofers but HOWLed instead!

We had planned on going further today and the two Huskies confirmed our decision.

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Passing a Viking Afloat hire boat who wanted to check on how to do a lock as they passed  us, this would be their first proper one since picking the boat up. There were a couple of freshly cut tree stumps along the way, maybe more than one tree had blown down in the Beast from the East II. The trees in the cutting would have blocked the way completely as they are so tall. Either the contractors had removed the main part of the trunk or the word had got out of free wood, as apart from the odd very large chunk of tree there were no offerings for us to pick up.

P1250776smHaving just stocked up the cupboards we had no need to stop in Brewood, shame as the butchers is quite nice. The towpath nearest the bridge has been tidied up recently and look very welcoming, just a shame the remainder is currently a quagmire. Passing through the last of the Shroppie cuttings we of course met a boat coming the other way, we managed to pull over with enough room for them to pass without anyone ending up in the trees.

P1250804smP1250810smOur chosen mooring came into view, only one other boat there. So we pulled along to where the hedge was at it’s lowest to get the best from the view across the fields and Tilly and I had a good long walk together before more boats arrived.

DSCF7114sm1 lock, 4.8 miles, A5, 1 bottle gas, 25kg coal, 1 full water tank, 4 boxes wine, 0 rubbish, 1 empty wee tank, 2 false stops, 1 low sitting electric boat, 4 hire boats, 2 HOWLers, 1 pretty bridge, 1 last cutting, 1 big field to dig up.


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