Category Archives: Trent and Mersey Canal

His And Hers. 31st May

Magazine Bridge 55 to Hopwas Wood Bridge, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

His and Her tissues

Well we tried our best, but failed. I have most definitely come down with Micks cold. He however suggests that it can’t be his as his started off with a dribbly nose and mine with a sore throat. One thing is for sure we now both have a box of tissues. Mick has been improving during the day whilst I’ve been going in the opposite direction.

Very evocative for me

Boats were coming past in both directions in a constant stream, so we pushed out and joined them. The off side is predominantly wood, Ravenshaw Wood which is currently filled with the pinky purple mountains of rhododendron flowers. A fantastic sight. In the garden of the house where I was born we had similar bushes, ours reached about 15ft high and were of varying colours. Here they towered higher 20 to 25ft high and all the same colour, the sun making them different shades as we passed by. Flowers as far as you could see through the trees.

Wood End Lock with it’s cranked beams

After about 20 minutes of rhododendrons we arrived at Wood End Lock. A boat was coming up and another in front of us waiting to go down. As one boat left the lock another would arrived to replace it in the queue. By the time it was our turn there were three below and two behind us. But now we were spaced out with suitable time between us and the one ahead to not have to wait too long at Shadehouse Lock.

Shadehouse Lock ahead

The Trent and Mersey Canal reaches it’s most southerly point and does a 90 degree turn back to the north east. Around here HS2, phase 1, will cut across the canal heading up towards Rugeley. How our landscape will change.

Brian and the walkers

At Shadehouse we had a short pause as one boat finished coming up the lock. The volunteer on duty here, Brian, was very jolly and we had quite a chat. A large group of walkers stopped and watched boats through the lock and then posed for a group photo. Brian did his best to not be too prominent, however he appeared in quite a few of my photos. He watched from the bridge as we made our way to Middle Lock awaiting the next boat.

Brian surveying the scene below

A younger chap worked us through the next lock, he was quite eager to have his lunch break so was a touch disappointed to hear about the boats following us. But when Brian decided to go for his lunch break he’d join him and it wouldn’t be long before he was feeling peckish as well.

Our intention to turn right onto the Coventry Canal was radioed ahead, we’d not be proceeding to the next lock. I walked ahead and checked at the junction, a boat was coming from the south and turning towards Oleanna. It can be quite chaotic at the junction at times, but today everything was quite orderly.

That photo everyone has to get of The Swan and your boat

Mick turned Oleanna and I swung the swing bridge open we then pulled in just past the water point, collected our rubbish up and Mick headed to the bins back round the corner. An early lunch then we pushed off again to head for Hopwas.

Time to add some colour

Now on the flat I retired below to start painting my model. Mick plugged his ears into the Men’s Cricket World Cup and was happy for the next few hours. New large houses just south of Fradley have that 1930’s look, without chimneys or the window onto a quarter landing on the staircase. Hardly affordable housing.

New housing trying to look like old

At around 4:30pm the hard edged section past the Ministry of Defence woods at Hopwas ended and Mick pulled us into the side. Back at Fradley everyone had been suggesting which pub to visit and how much they liked Hopwas. Except we stopped short and let the four legged one out. Tilly spent hours just feet away from Oleanna going round in circles, not knowing which friend to play with. I got the base coat of paint on much of my pub whilst Mick tried to grease the side hatch hinges which are starting to get stiff again.

3 locks, 10.3 miles, 1 mountainous mile of rhododendrons, 3 to come up, 2 to go down, 90 degrees back to the north, 2 Lockies, 1 right, 1 swing bridge, 0 held up, 2 bags rubbish, 3 weeks, 4 sliders, 2 sets doors, 3 tables, 2 bar stools, 6 short stools, 3 friends all wanting to play.

 

Toad In The Pudding. 30th May

Fancy Bridge73A to Magazine Bridge 55.

Today would be the day, had I avoided getting Mick’s cold?

Unfortunately I woke with the start of a sore throat, so almost certainly not. By the end of the day I was starting on the drugs too.

Last glimpse of the Shugborough Estate

Last night we’d considered having a walk around Shugborough, but then we worked out how many hours cruising we’d need to do to reach our next destination in time. Not being good at getting up and going early (unless we have to), the fact that we need to be doing around four and a half hours a day meant we’d not be hanging around today especially as we were in need of a proper shop.

The smell from this is wonderful

On our way late morning we passed a few boats and timed our arrival at Colwich Lock very well as a boat had just come up leaving the next awaiting boat’s crew to help us down. I took advantage on them being on the towpath side and headed straight to the bottom gates. Just here, in the lock cottage garden, is a rather lovely Black Elder plant. In the past it has given off such a wonderful scent I made a bee line for it. As with the more common Elderflower they are only just starting to come into bloom. Only a couple of heads were in flower today and the lack of sunshine meant it wasn’t producing it’s aroma. Next week it will most probably be at its best.

Colwich Lock

As ever below the lock there was a queue. We pootled onwards. Swans were taking advantage of their piece of canal bank and through Taft Bridge Dexta was high and dry.

No diesel today

NB Dexta used to be moored on the cut, red diesel would be pumped from the farm behind, to a tank on board to be sold to passing boaters. A favourite for many a boater, but we’d heard that the boat was out of the water. No signs anywhere about diesel. Either the boat is out for maintenance or they have stopped selling to boaters. Glad we’d known this and filled up in Stone.

Brindley Aqueduct over the Trent

Pootling onwards over Brindley Bank Aqueduct we now cruised past numerous moored boats. We were wanting to stop at Tescos to do a big shop, as we got closer we wondered if there’d be a suitable mooring.

A boat was just pulling out from the 7 day moorings, not wanting to risk not finding anywhere through the bridge we pulled in knowing from past experience we wouldn’t get into the side. A hire boat was just about to push off and offered us their space, they’d got into the side. It took forever for the chap at the back to untie his rope, a tsunami would have a job shifting them from that mooring ring. We pulled back and managed to get one end of the boat close enough.

Straight on today

A relatively big shop to keep us going for the next week or so and we were on our way again. Of course there was loads of space through the bridge! As we passed Rugeley Winding Hole, we were reminded that this is where we turned around in October 2017, our plans having changed. We’d been heading towards Derby for the court case and had received news that it would be postponed until the following year, so had turned round and headed north for Christmas. Today we continued southwards, you could say for Christmas.

The tunnel

With a couple more hours of cruising planned we pootled on. Through Armitage Tunnel, no body was coming so I was able to wave Mick into the narrow channel when I’d only got half way through. Would there be space above Wood End Lock to moor? We didn’t want to risk everywhere being full so tried a few places on the way.

Look what’s up there!

Lovely places, all suitable for Tilly, just too shallow for Oleanna. After Bridge 55 we pulled in as far away from the road as possible and let Tilly out. She was given a couple of hours but brought back a friend after three and a half!

This evening I had a go at Toad in the hole with a third of my buckwheat pancake mix. I added an egg and a touch of baking powder hoping that would help lift the heavier flour. It was tasty especially as I’d added some rosemary and thyme to the mix, but it certainly hadn’t reached for the sky. A good blob of ketchup on the side made it even tastier. I won’t be rushing to make it again. One third left to go!

Tastier than it looked

1 lock, 10.93 miles, 1 new Charity Wharf, 2 many shallow moorings, 1 boat too deep, 7 half hitches, 3 sheep shanks, 2 bowlines, 1 reef knot, 2 grannies just in case, 27 days, 4 boxes wine, 1 sore throat, 20 minutes behind schedule, 1 pudding with 6 sausages, 1 very lively friend.

Just Around The Corner. 29th May

Tixall Wide to Fancy Bridge 73A, Trent and Mersey

The rising sun urged me to get up off the sofa bed and peek through the curtains. What a sight! The side hatch had to be opened to get the full effect.

Wow! Just Wow!!!

Steam rose from the water so close I could just about touch it, reminiscent of my first experience of sea fret in Scarborough wafting through open van windows. The sun rising in the east caught the clouds above with streaks of orange and pink. Not as bright and bold jaw dropping as sunsets can be but more in keeping with the hour, a quiet calm beauty. I felt privileged to have been able to experience it.

It’s still there

Both of us had slept better, I had too, nobody moving the duvet around to find more space for themselves. An hour and a half of shore leave whilst we had a leisurely breakfast, then it was time to move on. We pushed off and headed back to Great Haywood Junction. I hopped off as we crossed the Trent Aqueduct and walked on ahead to check on the situation.

We’d tried that way and it was very pretty, so let’s go straight on this time

There was space for one more on the water point, we fancied a top up, and nobody was coming so Mick brought Oleanna out from under the bridge, turned her to the right and then reversed back to the water point. One boat was having a pump out, the aroma reaching the noses of walkers coming down from the road. The young girls had no idea what the terrible pong was, but they certainly didn’t like it and made sure we all knew about it!

Look what lies under the West Coast Main Line

Once our tank was full we pulled along past the bridge and found ourselves a space before the lock. Here was better positioned for a drug run into the village (more Lemsips required), a look in at the Spar shop to see if there was a copy of Canal Boat and then a look at the Farm shop.

Tilly struck lucky, there were several copies for sale. I refrained from reorganising the shelf, leaving our four legged thug hidden behind Take a Break and Hello Magazine. They also had Dreamies, so we were able to stock up again (No need for Mungo and Dog to parachute in their spare packet yet, but thank you Joa).

Well worth a visit, shame the fish has gone

The Farm Shop has changed a touch since I last visited. The cheese is now all pre-cut and the wonderful fish counter has gone. The meat counter still looks good, only one variety of frozen gluten free sausages on offer, so we refrained. However we couldn’t resist a punnet of strawberries picked this morning and some asparagus. The latter not quite so fresh or local, it came from Kent! Mick got a pork pie too and we made our way back to Oleanna for lunch.

Over the cobbled bridge at the junction

The mooring here was dark and on a drizzly afternoon it meant we needed the cabin lights on, so we decided to move down the lock. We do-si-do’d with two boats and I stayed to help close the gates for an old work boat which had two C&RT volunteers on board. Mick pulled up at the end of the lock mooring to see what the Fender boat could sell us.

All sorts of fenders
Not just fenders for sale

After around 1615 locks our bow fender is looking a touch used. Mick lifted it the other day but we wanted to add another fender lower down to stop the bow catching on cills as we rise in locks. Mick chatted away and was shown several fenders ranging from £60 to £85. We ended up with a mid range fender and discussed how to attach it, this should be fairly easy with the fixings we already have.

Another favourite mooring

We pootled on a short distance more. Here the towpath opens out with a view over the Trent to Shugborough Hall. A few years ago we made the most of our National Trust membership and visited the estate several days in a row. Today we’d thought about having a wonder around the grounds but the constant drizzle put us off, so instead we stayed inside and got the stove going again.

Tilly spent several hours in the long grass and returned muddy and soaked. No longer the glamorous cover cat, just our bedraggled Dreamie demanding murderous thug. I’m glad things are back to normal.

1 lock, 1.22 miles,1 right, 1 reverse, 1 top up, 10 lemsips, 1 copy, 1 months supply Dreamies, 1 fantastic awakening, 1 approach, 1 punnet strawberries, 11 spears from Kent, 1 pie, 2 hash browns, 1 roast chicken stir fry, 2 tickets to London booked, 1 sock looking promising, 3rd night of quarantine this time on the dinette.

The Secret Passageway. 28th May

Sandy Lane Bridge to Tixall Wide, Staffordshire and Worcester Canal

Because Mick is snotty and cross contamination isn’t wanted I’m trying out the sofa bed. This confused Tilly somewhat last night. First there was the excitement of me pulling out the pouffe from under the shelving. This reveals a secret passage behind the sofa. I know it’s there and quite often try to dig it out, emptying the shelves of leaflets and books, but this never works. But tonight it was there, open for me, just there!

The culprit!

What is down there? I hear you ask. Quite a few foil balls and some pens which are behaving themselves and staying on the floor, they did need rearranging though. She wanted to check that I was alright so I bobbed my head back out as everything changed again! Wow!! Which way to go next. The secret passage had become wider, more obedient pens, but the sofa had also gone flat! Both were good until the sofa folded up again, I think it may have been a touch drunk as it had fallen over. A duvet was brought out from the other side of the secret passageway and the sofa went flat again. All this excitement, but then I realised that the sofa being flat meant there was no easy access to the window above.

When the lights went out I didn’t know what to do. I normally spend most of the night keeping her toes warm and ‘hogging the duvet’. ‘How can such a little one take up half the bed?’ That bit’s easy. So Tom was on his own, leaving half the bed just for me, but he was making noises! She was on the drunk sofa, plenty of space for me, but did I trust it? Better to be safe and sleep on the cushion.

Oil Boat

Boats were coming past us early, we’d not be first to Weston Lock. When we were ready we could see in the distance a couple of boats coming towards us, both taking their time if they were moving at all, so we pulled out and headed for the lock. There a boat was just finishing going down and NB Ondina the oilboat was waiting to come up. NB Grace pulled up once out of the lock to stock up, once the transaction was done they came into the lock and rose. Mick wandered down and placed an order for 10 L of 15W/40. As soon as Ondina had risen enough the chap hopped down and delved into the front of the boat bringing out two plastic 5L bottles. The transaction was completed as the top gate opened along with the heavens.

Wonderful shape, just in need of some TLC

Behind us two boats waited to follow us down another arriving to come up. On we pootled past alpacas and old caravans. Apparently Llamas have banana shaped ears and Alpacas straight ones, you learn something new.

The sun out at Hoo Mill Lock

Hoo Mill Lock the last for today, we hoped, if our plan of drawing the crowds away to the north of the Trent and Mersey had worked. The water point at Great Haywood Junction was busy, two boats already filling. There was space on the end for us to wait, then another boat arrived and pulled alongside. As one space became available it was easier for the newly arrived boat to move up then we’d pull back when the other became free.

Which way shall we go to London?

As we filled we were joined by a hire boat and another boat waited through the bridge for their turn, all very busy. Two boats turned at the junction towards Tixall Wide, would there be enough space for all of us? How many git gaps?

Not a bad view

We turned onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to see if our luck was in. Coming round the bend we could see boats, but there were also some spaces. The prime position is a mooring with a view of Tixall Gate House. The spaces we could see were just before this. Ahead a hire boat was plonked right in the middle of a two boat gap. The young crew said hello and then started to untie, yes! We winded and pulled in, nudging up to the boat in front.

Gate house behind the central oak

Our view isn’t quite as good as it could have been. We can see the gate house, just. If only a bit more offside pruning had been done!

Quite a big sneaky peek of the boozer

An afternoon of hunting, blowing a nose and finishing off my model. I then took a full set of photos ready to do a story board tomorrow which I’ll upload to Dropbox for everyone’s reference.

Lovely

2 locks, 4.46 miles, 1 right, 1 wind, 1 wet morning, 10 litres 15W/40, 2 Dreamies (only) a visit, 1 box of tissues nearly finished, 1 drunk sofa, 5 obedient pens, 2 pencils, 1 mooring with a view, 1 model finished.

Anyone For Pancakes? 27th May

Stone Bottom Lock Winding Hole to Sandy Lane Bridge 81

Grey clouds ahead

Time to move on, past time actually! As we made ready to push off an Anglo Welsh boat came past, NB Golden Finch, on board was Lorraine an Instagram acquaintance of mine who is out for 8 weeks. I waved from inside and got a cheery wave back from the chap at the helm. Lorraine only realised it was us when she saw Tilly. Spotting someone you half know isn’t that unusual, but a short time later we realised that NB Golden Finch was the last hire boat we had. Hired in December 2013 for five days from Wooten Wawen, we’d sold our shareboat and were waiting for our boat to be built, we needed a canal fix.

The day was going to be a wet one. We rolled back the covers, then took shelter whilst a storm cloud went past. After five minutes things looked good, we pushed off and headed to Aston Lock.

Approaching Aston Lock

Eagerly awaiting us was a family, the son so excited that he’d get to see a boat in a lock he was bouncing up and down, higher and higher as we got closer. With two extra helpers, one who was almost jumping on board for a ride with us, it took no time to descend the lock.

My potting shed

A quick pause to take the obligatory photos, the mile post (which doesn’t mark the centre of the T&M but the central point between Shardlow and Preston Brook) and the potting shed with chimney.

Aston Marina looked inviting but other than stopping for a third roast in a row (this one would have been very much better than yesterdays and they have a gluten free menu too) we had no need to stop. As we pootled our way along rain showers came and went, nothing too wet thank goodness.

Looking back at Sandon Lock

At Sandon Lock a boat was coming up so we manged to swap with them, very well timed. The amount of extra crew on hand suggested there was a queue below and as I hopped back on board the three boats started to nudge up closer to await their turn. One thing I noticed was that the lock cottage at last has a new low wall and fence, there has been a temporary fence there for years!

Mick was disappointed as always at there being no trains zooming past us on the parallel line, he always drops the revs in such places making the window of opportunity that bit longer.

Follow the arrows

There has been some work done to Salt Bridge. A new edge towpath side and arrows guiding you into the bridge hole as though on a steep bend in a car. Here”s hoping these measures enable the bridge to stand for many years to come.

Bedraggled and certainly not happy

The next bend brings with it permanent moorings. Here a new character was sat on the roof of a boat, bedraggled from the rain looking totally deflated. I won’t post the photo I took of Dante as he is still obviously in a bad way and has been mixing with the wrong crowd for far too long!

Now we wanted a mooring, it was lunch time and the sniffle Mick had started with yesterday was increasing to sneezes. As the railway moved away we pulled in on some armco. Within ten minutes the heavens opened and emptied itself, luckily we were indoors, Tilly was out and only returned when it got exceptionally heavy. After a quick bath she’d sit at the back door and wait quietly for one of us to open it for her, again.

We’ve lots of chicken to eat, so I decided to make some pancakes to stuff. Buckwheat pancake batter is best made ahead of time and left to rest. I’d checked the recipe and a while later weighed out the flour (must add Buckwheat flour to shopping list), cracked an egg into the bowl, a pinch of salt, but how much milk? I checked, 300ml. I measured it out added half of it to the bowl and mixed. Blimey this flour must have got drier or something! I was going to need an awful lot more milk to make the batter into a suitable consistency.

Quite a lot of batter there

I checked the recipe, 300ml of milk was correct, but I’d remembered the quantity of flour wrong. 100 grams not 300! Should I start again, there’d be enough flour, but I also had enough milk and eggs so could make a lot of batter.

Chicken stuffed pancakes
Golden syrup or maple syrup?

In the end I decided that this would be less wasteful and I could freeze the remainder. Yes I know I’d nearly emptied the freezer to defrost it, but we’ll try to consume the batter in the next week. I wonder if buckwheat pancake batter will make Yorkshire Puddings? The batter is more or less the same with normal flour.

Rain and a steamy canal

Mick sat and worked his way through a box of tissues whilst watching The Battle of Britain. The heavens continually opened up all afternoon and evening. A perfect Bank Holiday Monday.

Ahhh

2 locks, 5.69 miles, 1 Insta friend, 2 damp boaters, 3 in a queue, 0 trains, 1 soggy moggy, 1 tasty starter, 1.3kg of pancake batter, 2 tuperwares in the freezer keeping half a tub of ice cream company, 1 classic film, 3 lemsips, 1 box tissues, 4 savoury pancakes, 4 sweet pancakes, 1 double rainbow, 2 ball experiment of none stripy stripy sock.

Yarn And Wine. 26th May

Stone

A box full of panto

Saturday was a work day, all but one job ticked off my list. The last remaining job will take a bit of time and thought which will come easier with a fresh brain. I now have a full box of bits and on the flat days of cruising to come heading southwards I’m hoping I’ll get lots of those bits painted.

A proper roast

The weekend being a Bank Holiday it feels like we have three Sundays all in a row. So on the first of these we decided to have a roast, chicken with tarragon butter under it’s skin. Very nice it was too.

Down on the floor

Second Sunday morning Mick decided to give under our corner cupboard a good clean out. This is a triangular cupboard that pulls out giving access to the corner of the galley. The bottom contents of the deep corner cupboard come out in a drawer which is pulled out by the triangular piece. This all works very well, until too much crud collects, we are starting to get marks on the oak floor.

Thanks Tilly for your assistance!

Tilly is the only one who really knows what goes on down there and she wasn’t being any help what so ever. Nothing for it but to get down on the floor and lie flat on your belly. All the dust, cat fur etc was swept out. Still no improvement! I adopted the horizontal position with Mick gently moving the cupboard. We’d assumed that the marks were being made by the wheels, but watching as the unit moved the marks where in front of the wheels, the worst mark no where near a castor.

A spare piece of card from my model was used to see if there was an obstruction under the plinth on the leading edge of the triangular cupboard. Sure enough there was. The cupboard was lifted slightly and a good sweep under with the card cleared a large bit of grit. We’ll have to keep a better eye on this.

The blue boat came past this morning, our summer is complete now we’ve seen them. They don’t recognise us now we’re no longer yellow.

As lunchtime approached we stepped off Oleanna to head to the pub, well it was Sunday after all. A short chat with Nick from NB City of Durham, he’s been a long standing blog reader following us from our yellow days. Nice to meet you.

Sarah and Nikki

The Star was where we met up with two old friends, Nikki and Sarah. They used to be Stage Mangers at Hull Truck, then after we moved to a life afloat they started to work at the SJT in Scarborough. They now live in Wem just under an hours drive away.

A few days ago my yarn order still hadn’t arrived in Rode Heath, so I placed another order under Micks name and got it sent by priority delivery to the ladies. As soon as I knew that my order had arrived I cancelled the missing one, asking the company for a refund and mentioning that I’d paid for DPD delivery on the successful order. Later that day I had a full refund and got the delivery charge returned too.

Yarn!

Today as soon as welcome hugs were over I was handed my parcel. 100 grams of variegated German yarn in two shades. The numbers were what I’d ordered, but the picture on the band suggested that they would knit up with stripes, this was not the effect I was after. Time and needles would tell. I refrained from starting straight away, there was lots to catch up on.

Food was selected, two roast beefs ordered which despite being on the menu were not available today! So alternative pork was chosen. We hadn’t expected great things on the food front and we weren’t disappointed, mediocre at it’s best. But the glasses of wine flowed and the company more than made up for it.

This is the better of the photos, I think the camera had had a touch too much wine too!

They came back to Oleanna to meet her and Tilly for the first time. Three years ago they were going to stay with us for a night in Nottingham when Tilly was only about six months old. More wine was consumed, Sarah sticking to coffee for the drive home. It’s always lovely to see them, hopefully next time they will come cruising with us.

The knitting needles came out later. A tension square needed to work out my pattern and to see how the yarn knitted up. It soon became obvious that the website sample had lied. Yes there are numerous colours and shades, these on the sample looked very mixed up. But row after row the stripes appeared and continued. I’ve got enough knitted to work out my tension and pattern. Tomorrow I’ll see what happens if I split the ball of yarn in half and try knitting alternate rows, will this jumble up the colours to achieve the required effect?

Website sample, just the right effect
Stripes! Not the required effect

0 Locks, 0 miles, 2 Sundays so far, 1 car left to sort, 1 full box, 1 roast chicken, 2 boaters lying flat, 1 bit of grrrrrit, 2 lovely ladies, 1 pink parcel, 2 balls of yarn, 1 month late, 2 roast beef pork, 1 wine filled afternoon, 1 stripy tension square.

Water Chaos. 24th May

Lime Kiln Lock to Stone Bottom Lock Winding Hole

Time to move on, well just a bit. We’d thought about moving early, but despite the sun waking us a lot earlier than normal we didn’t seem to get moving any earlier than normal. Other boats were on the move and we suspected we’d have to wait for some of the locks going through Stone today, but we had plenty of time.

I love these curved platforms around these locks.

Lime Kiln lock already had a boat going down, so I helped with the gates and reset it for us. The boats should now be spaced out, but when I rounded the bend towards Newcastle Road Lock I could see the same boat waiting for another to come up.

The gates had been left from a boat going down for one coming up, good practice. Although that boat was still filling with water at the tap below. There were plenty of people on hand to help from waiting boats. Each person who appeared from below said that it was chaos at the water point. Two boats moored on the service moorings, one had just had to do-se-do as it came out from the lock with the one leaving the water point, another arrived and pulled up on the off side, another trying to hold a position ready to come up the lock when it was their turn, but out of the way for the next descending boat to come past.

Our turn at last

Why so many boats at one tap? Stone has two taps, one here and the other below Star Lock. As we’d noticed the other day on a walk, the tap by Star Lock isn’t working, a big blue C&RT sign blurred with rain once said something, but is now illegible. We’d tried the tap and certainly nothing came out of it. There is no C&RT notice that we can find about this tap.

We needed water, the gauge was down to just under a quarter and we’d planned on doing some washing. Nothing for it but to head down the lock and hope there would be somewhere for us to wait our turn. There was nowhere near the tap so instead Mick moved Oleanna down to the chandlers where we decided to fill with diesel. We’d been hoping to meet up with Coal Boat Halsall, but by the time they get to Great Haywood we will most likely have turned off the Trent and Mersey and be on our way to Atherstone much further south.

Looking back towards the tap, less chaotic now

Apparently a few days ago someone had pulled up where we were to wait for the tap to become free and then an altercation occurred as someone had jumped the queue, fists were mentioned in the tale Mick was told. We waited patiently.

One boat that had been filling no longer had it’s hose out, the crew seemed to be having a nice chat with a coffee in hand, presumably unaware that they were hogging the services whilst others waited, patiently. He eventually pulled away, vacating a space for the chap who’d clung onto his boat for half an hour on the off side. It turns out that his wife had gone shopping for some bits and he’d been waiting for her. Have to say if it had been us we’d have arranged to meet somewhere up ahead once the tank was full. But each to their own.

Obligatory photo

When there was space for us we backed up and waited our turn. For such a busy place only having one tap working is ridiculous especially in this location. We asked the volunteers about it. When demolition work started below Star Lock on the old Leisure Centre the water was turned off, presumably just in case. The tap now no longer works and has been out of action for possibly six weeks! Will a supply be reinstated? If not then more waiting space should be provided to help stop boats backing up all over the place.

Dropping down Star Lock

With our tank full we worked down the next lock and pulled into a 24 hr mooring. From here we walked to Morrisons to do a reasonably large shop. Once this was stowed we dropped down Star Lock, a line of chairs laid out along the towpath for drinking gongoozlers. There was space here for us, this will do for a couple of days.

Out of action, but for how long?

4 locks, 0.81 miles, 4, 5, 6, who knows boats waiting for water,  6 volunteers, 1 admired cat, 85 litres diesel, 1 full water tank, 2 moorings, 2 boxes wine, 1 chicken, 1 freezer still not empty, 3 hours, 7 magpies, 1 postponement.