Hello folks. We are now well into our second week of cruising and it’s like we have never been away and we have slipped right back into the groove, without any problem at all.
I think we have covered around 30 miles since we left Trent Lock Monday before last, and we are exactly where I had planned we would be, when I mapped out our planned route before we left, and we are currently in the town of Rugeley.
It continues to be pretty cold first thing, but over the last two days we have only lit the fire in the evenings and we are seeing two digit temperatures now, thank goodness. Fashionistas please note that I am no longer wearing socks in bed - so last winter don't you think! But the hat stays on for the time being. Pat threatened me with shorts this morning. I think she needs a check-up, from the neck up! And although the temperatures have picked up today it's been gusting up to 40mph, which puts great demands on my tiller skills.
So we have swapped Derbyshire for Staffordshire and we are currently on a bit of detour to the town of Stone.
|Pat checks out a new boat (can see a problem with the sleeping arrangements though)|
My waterways pals will know we should turn left at Great Haywood junction if we are heading for Worcester, but we are carrying on another 10 miles or so, so we have a base for this weekend, when the first mate celebrates a landmark birthday.
It’s possible that our pals from Nantwich, Vic and Liz, might join us for a bit of a celebration on Friday or Saturday evenings. Lots of good pubs and restaurants in Stone, so Pat will have plenty to choose from.
We spent much of last weekend in the village of Willington where we investigated Mercia Marina as a possible winter mooring option for later this year and bought a chimney brush and other boating essentials in the Chandlers. Pat also wanted to have a look at the lodges that sit beside the waters edge, as did I, but I don’t think they are for us.
As the weather had picked up a bit I polished one side of the boat and Pat fitted some matting at the decking at the stern.
Then it was on to the capital of British brewing, Burton On Trent, where we didn’t stop, (don't ask) and took this picture just beyond Burton, at Branston Lock. Evidently Crossse & Blackwell had a factory in the village close by and named the pickle after it. They sold the brand in the 1990s and a passing boater told us its now made in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
|Pat's in a pickle at Branston|
For most of Sunday we accompanied Brendan and Sophie. They were brand new to boating - had picked up their boat that day from Mercia Marina, and were taking it to Birmingham. I was amazed that the brokerage there did not advise them about essential equipment. They had one windlass, no BW keys and no handcuff keys, so they were pretty stuck if they wanted water, empty their loo or go through city centre locks. We heard from them them the day later, they did, indeed get stuck.
It’s going to be a sharp learning curve for them, but they were keen and not at phased by it all.
I shouldn’t say this, but everything is working well on the boat, though I am still struggling to get the boiler to give us hot water, when it has been on overnight. I’ve tried all sorts of settings to no avail - turned off the rads and the thermostat. Luckily, now the weather has picked up its not so much of an issue.
Pat’s not a big fan of the Trent & Mersey, but I think its got a lot going for it - lots of towns and junctions and has a lot of facilities - a lot more water and sanitary points that many other canals.
|The "Cat", at rest at Fradley|
Yesterday we stayed over at Fradley Junction and I had to have a pint in the Swan, or “Mucky Duck” as it is often called. It’s one of the most popular canal-side pubs on the system, so it would have been rude not to patronise it for a pint, at least.