Sunday, 2 November 2014

All cruised out

After 800-plus miles this season, we finally chugged back into Mercia Marina yesterday morning. And it felt good to be back. Lots of familiar faces said hello and we didn’t waste any time before we were in the new bar/bistro at the “Boardwalk”, the new retail complex that sticks out like a finger from the main car park. There is a rolling selection of beers and the quality was good.

Our view of the new "Boardwalk" development at Mercia Marina from TCW
We are back on the same pontoon as last year, though we have moved down one spot. I was not looking forward to turning into the mooring as the marina is very open and it was quite gusty yesterday, but it was OK, and our neighbour Ian was there to lend a hand. Ian and Sarah have taken possession of a rather-snazzy 10ft wide-beam since we saw them last and we were both very impressed with the finish, both inside and out. Ummmmmm.........
The last week or so has seen us marking time as we could not come in to the marina until 1 November. That was our agreement. All this hanging about would be fine for most of our boating pals who make a point of only moving every few days, stopping to commune with nature and immersing themselves in local cultural activities. Pat and I, (well me anyway) like to keep moving, unless, of course, we are in a place or town that screams out for investigation.

We must have been mad asking for a cream roof. Always scrubbing it clean and then rinsing it off.
At Branston Water Park

Most villages you pass through or by usually have the regulation church, a Co-op or a Spar, and at least one hairdresser, and within an hour or so you can easily walk the length of the High Street, take a look at the church and have a quick pint if the pub happens to be open. Occasionally these visits throw up something interesting but it’s rare. Call me cynical (and I am sure you will) but that’s the way we cruise, though I note that we have done 100 miles less this year than last, so we are slowing down a bit.
Pat places her order at Coates the butchers in Alrewas
So we had a long weekend in the village of Alrewas, and there are a lot worse places to bide your time with 3 pubs, 2 churches, a butchers, a fish & chip shop and a Co-op. I’m sure there is also a hairdresser somewhere, but we never come across it. We both like the village, especially Coates, the butchers. It’s a popular stop for visiting boaters and Coates has a very good reputation. Not cheap, but the quality is excellent. We were there for five days this time around. And Alrewas punches well above its weight in other departments too.  Great value Sunday carvery lunch at “The George & Dragon”, plus a visit to the local ukulele club on Monday night and a return trip to the National Arboretum just outside the village.

The new Women's Land Army statue at the National Arboretum just outside Alrewas

Then it was nearly three days at Branston Water Park, just outside Burton Upon Trent: a very good mooring with a half-decent pub and a very convenient park bench close to the boat that I was able to use to as a work horse, to split a load of wood up on and cut some longer lengths down. We now have a good stash of year-old cured wood ready for when it finally gets cold. We have had the fire on most nights, but as we all know it has been very mild of late. In the mornings when I get up to put the kettle on, I have rarely had to slip a jumper on and on Thursday visitors to the water park were walking around in shirt sleeves.

Part of our wood "cache", ready for a cold snap
Late this afternoon there are fireworks at the marina. Not sure whether to watch from the back of the boat listening to “Handel’s Firework music” or venture over to where the barbecue is. Ah decisions, decisions.
Toodaloo chums


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