Friday, 1 November 2013

Storm!.. Call that a Storm

Hello pals and bloggers. As some of you will know both of our families have lived in the south of England for many, many years. My descendants have lived in and around Hertfordshire for at least 300 years, and while Pat can’t quite match that, having Irish and Italian roots, both her parents and grandparents came from the south. I guess we are then, pretty died-in-the-wool “Southern Softies”, and no doubt display all the traits of an upbringing in and around the metropolis.
I mention this at the start of this blog, as here we are, back in the East Midlands, and we both feel very much at home here. True, we can’t navigate our way around the area like we can back in Hertfordshire, but neither of us misses our life-style on the fringes of London, and although it may be 2-3 degrees cooler up here, it is more than made up for with the general warmth of welcome you get wherever you go. We are rapidly regarding this area as our home turf.
A wet Tuesday evening at Brindley Place, Central Birmingham

The last few days have been pretty quiet. No comings or goings on board and we have made steady progress north from Birmingham, and arrived at our winter moorings this morning, in Mercia Marina, Willington, Derbyshire, between Derby and Burton-On-Trent, which will be our home now until next spring.

Tackling The Farmers Bridge flight "By Any Means"

We finally left Birmingham last Wednesday after nearly a week in the city and dropped down the long Farmers Bridge flight during the morning in glorious sunshine. Half way down you encounter the sight above and if you have been watching the TV series “By Any Means” on a Sunday evening, you might recognise it as the team’s lair in the series. It’s supposed to be in London!
Wednesday was quite a day 21 locks but only around 9 miles. It doesn’t sound that much but we set off just after nine in the morning and moored at 5.15pm, without a stop. Towards the end of the journey I snagged, what I believe is my first shopping trolley on the way out of a lock. I dragged it out and then had no control over the boat at all. Luckily a boat was coming the other way, and dragged me off it. We tried to locate it with boat hooks but it’s still at the top of the Minworth flight, so beware if you in that part of the West Midlands.
Just some of the rubbish being retrieved from the Birmingham & Fazeley. Shame they missed my shopping trolley!

From there to Fazely Junction and on to the Coventry I was constantly having to clear my prop of leaves. The boat just did not feel right though I must admit that seems  to have sorted itself out once we were on the Trent & Mersey again.
Hearing that a big storm was brewing over the weekend lead to us to make the dash north, getting on the Trent & Mersey at Fradley, and mooring for the weekend in Alrewas. This village is a hot bed of ukulele action, and on Sunday afternoon over 50 uke players descended on the village hall for a “Strumathon”. Great noise!  Some came from as far as Stoke. We preceded the playing with a very good Sunday lunch in one of the village pubs, which also offered some sensibly-priced beer for a change. Once back we cleared the roof of all the paraphernalia we have collected, doubled up the ropes and sat tight. We thought we were in for a battering, which never came. Lots of rain bashing on the roof, but no wind.
We stayed in Alrewas until Tuesday morning, after filling our freezer up from the excellent village butcher and our next overnight stop was in Burton-On-Trent, the centre of British brewing, in case you didn’t know. We have travelled this stretch a few times now, and I have visited the National Brewing Museum on a previous visit, but not Marston’s Brewery, which is about 100 metres from  the cut and has its own moorings. I pitched up for the 11am visit, which was cancelled, and later that day, a very nice sounding lady called Meryl left a message to say I was welcome the next day, but we had to move on. There will be other opportunities I am sure.

Marston's Brewery moorings in Burton-On-Trent

Last night we moored in Willington and this morning made the short journey into the marina here. I think we feared that we would get a poor position, coming into the marina so late in the season, but we have a great spot, close to everything we need.
It’s a real novelty to have shore line power again. The last time we had that luxury was in Gloucester Docks back in May. The previous moorer here has also left a fiver credit on the meter, so that should keep this laptop going for a good while.
The Cat's Whiskers approaches the end of it's 2013 adventures
Our mooring is next to the grey boat on the left
Easing her onto her pontoon at Mercia
We have not been idle since arriving a few hours ago. We are now registered at the local GP’s, I have joined the local library, we have booked in for the marina quiz on 20 November and are looking forward to the Marina Firework Party on Sunday night. Sorted out the buses and trains and booked our daily paper at the marina shop. By the way, If anybody fancies a visit we will be pleased to see you.
I guess now the blogs will slow down a bit, but keep popping by.
I have just done some calculations and we have travelled 1035 miles this season and Pat has opened and closed 975 locks. Here’s to next year when we head north.

Toodaloo chums


  1. Welcome to Mercia Marina from your Neighbors on NB Thomas (Look out your windows).

    Ian and Sarah

    1. Ian
      Not sure when you are back tonight but could you let me have a phone number or e mail address for the chap who does all your boat servicing. We need to sort ours out in the next few weeks.
      Many thanks

  2. Great to see you have arrived safely . Will be in touch in November to arrange a meal out and hopefully have Jan in tow.