Thurlwood Winding Hold to between Townfield Lock 46 and Kents Lock 45.
One visible bubble this morning on the Geraghty Zoom which got a cheer from us all, Kath and Sean sat on the same sofa. There were also birthday wishes for the youngest member of the family, Penelope who had her first birthday this week. Lovely to see everyone as ever.
Mick had already been to the Post Office for our newspaper this morning, popping a birthday card in the post and buying a bag of potatoes he felt we needed. So once we’d said goodbye to the family we were ready to push off.
A sneeze this morning had not agreed with my back, so as twinges came and went I avoided bending down and left all the covers and ropes to Mick. Walking and standing would most probably fix it, hopefully moving some lock gates would help too.
We’d already been overtaken by the boat from yesterday so it was a nice surprise to see a boat coming towards us, at least one lock would be in our favour, we hoped.
The first locks today were Lawton Locks, they always look tidy and skirt around the back of houses. The canal was here first of course, but it feels like the locks are almost an extension of peoples gardens. There was plenty more footfall than we have seen here before, but then it was a sunny Saturday morning.
As Oleanna approached the middle of the Lawton Locks I could see our leapfrog partner leaving the top lock and another boat entering the other chamber to come down. The middle lock is not paired so the descending boat would have to wait. As their boat appeared out of the lock I signalled to leave the gates for us. The chap at the helm tried to stop his mate but he just carried on closing up. When he came down to join me at the lock I apologised for not having left the gate open on the lock below, Mick had already closed them by the time I’d seen them.
Onwards and upwards we continued. At Halls Lock 49 Mick entered the lock and nudged up towards the top gate as usual. I lifted the first paddle halfway to get Oleanna settled. There was a crunch noise. I’d looked away for a second and quickly looked up. What was that?! I expected Mick to know what it was, but he had no idea. Everything seemed to be okay, Oleanna still rose in the lock.
Then as she got higher I realised what had happened. Links attaching the bow fender had given way and it sat on top of the lower one we’d added last year. The fender must have got caught somehow and the weak links given way which is why they are weak so as to stop the bow from being held down and causing a bigger problem.
Thankfully no harm done, we’d not noticed her getting caught up on anything. With the drag of the locks being so great on the Trent and Mersey we wanted to put the button back where it should be. We brought Oleanna out of the lock and Mick was going to pull in where we’ve moored twice before, but with the towpath so over grown there was nowhere to pull in. He carried on to the next lock landing, moored up and got the tool box out.
Only one shackle of a suitable size in the box. Maybe cable ties would do us for the time being. With Mick kneeling on the bow, he could just about lift the fender into position but not do anything about it. The boat hook was required to enable me to help. The hook looped into a link of the chain then the two of us pulled upwards. They are heavy things but luckily with both of us holding onto it neither of us took all the weight. So my back didn’t twinge and Mick could connect the chain back together and tighten the cable ties.
On closer inspection Mick had used two lockable carabiners on the button, not fully done up. Both of them had given way and straightened out. For now the cable ties will do us and Mick will try staying back in the locks.
Church Bottom and Top locks both had to be emptied and we made our way up them gradually. A huge dead fish sat in the grass alongside the bottom lock, it was this big! At least two foot long, honest. Mick didn’t see it and I was too busy to take it’s photo to prove it.
The moorings below the church were empty, we decided to carry on just a bit further as it was still bright.
Rounding the bend under Liverpool Road, the milk farm was decidedly none stinky today. I don’t think we’ve ever passed in the summer, it most definitely has an aroma the rest of the year.
NB Mellow sat on it’s mooring and a handy Sainsburys bag enabled me to re-enact the photo I used to take when we passed on Lillian.
Onto the home straight to Red Bull, we made our way up Townfield Lock and then decided to call it a day. We’re well on schedule and there s more sunlight here along with it being a better place for cats to explore. The railway is closer than further up, but we knew we wouldn’t be disturbed overnight as the line isn’t in use as much as it was pre-covid days.
My back had survived, enjoying doing locks, but it now deserved a good rest.
There is now a trailer for the Dark Horse production of The Garden Lockdown Edition I did the illustrations for. Next month the full production it will be available to watch on their Youtube Channel. But for now here’s a taster.
7 locks, 1.91 miles, 2 passing boats, 2 broken links, 4 cable ties, 0 harm done, 0 stink, 6 trains, 1 resting back, 1 pork stirfry, 6 more rows knitted, 0 corn to pick.