Sunday, 12 March 2017

Bath or Barth

Our favourite mooring in Alrewas
A very Good Morning my lovely friends and readers of the Hedgerow Jottings.

Here we are, back on the waterways for another year of boating and I'm so excited to report that the destination for our spring cruise is Bath (or Barth if you're posh!) According to Canal Planner we are looking at a journey of 296miles and 250 locks which will probably take us about 3 months. I'll definitely be in need of a spa break when we get there!

Every year when we load up our little blue car for the journey to the moorings, I wonder how we will fit it all in. This time I really couldn't squeeze everything in and after a bit of head scratching, we decided to leave the enormous bag of wool behind. Three days later, chugging along in the sunshine, I thought I'd take a photo so I could share the delightful spring scenery with you. That's when I realised that I had packed the camera ever-so carefully in amongst the balls of wool. This is my brand new camera, the one that I spent weeks researching to get just the right one in order to make a pictorial record of our boating life. It's very annoying but luckily, Carl had packed his, so I can take photos but as yet, I can't upload them.

We always manage to leave something behind and if you're a regular reader you may remember that last year we went off without the tiller arm. I'm happy to report that the tiller was repaired and is back where it belongs. It's on the list of things requiring the application of Brasso and elbow grease as do the vents and mushrooms* (see below) which have all acquired a dull coating of winter grime. Each spring when we return to the boat there is a flurry of scrubbing and polishing to get our lovely boat looking shipshape - polishing the brass is one of the better jobs when you compare it with clearing the weed-hatch or emptying the Elson, thanks goodness for a handy husband.

We started off the week with lots of lovely sunshine and a warm, gentle breeze to waft us up the canal through Burton and Branston, to an overnight mooring in our favourite spot overlooking the tile factory. I know it doesn't sound romantic but the tow-path is good here which is a nice change for me and Tricky. When Carl cast off the next morning, Tricky and I set off to walk to the next bridge and were able to stride out properly instead of tiptoeing through boggy puddles. I reached the bridge (it's number 36 for you boaters who know this stretch of the Trent and Mersey – the impossibly narrow one) I hung over the parapet to watch as Carl swept through without touching the sides – I'm very pleased to say he hasn't lost his touch on the tiller.

We reached BartonTurns and stopped for water – mainly because I've been washing everything in sight since Tuesday.  It takes a little while to fill the tank, so I wandered up to the lock and opened the paddles to let the water out ready for Carl to bring the boat in. While I waited, I started chatting to two ladies on the bridge above the lock and I climbed over the lock arm so I could hear what they were saying. We were rudely interrupted by the clanging of a boat hitting the bridge 'ole and ricocheting along before hitting the lock gates at ramming speed. Unluckily for me, the lock had just emptied so the lock gates flew open with me on the wrong side (ie on the watery side) causing me to vault over the lock arm like a champion hurdler. I don't think of myself as much of an athlete but I surprised myself, and my colourful language surprised the two nice ladies who wondered what was happening. The man on the tiller carried on into the lock apparently oblivious of the near miss I had just had and I stalked off back down the tow-path to find out what had happened to Carl. It seems Mr Lock-stealer just ignored the two boats moored on the lock landings and made a beeline for the lock, without checking to see if anyone was waiting. Its not a great way to make friends on the canal; we're generally a nice bunch and help each other out but I'm afraid I was a little upset at so nearly being thrust into the canal. I left him to do his own lock and I think he might have noticed that I was a bit miffed because he moored up and walked back to the lock and went over to Carl to apologise for jumping the queue – I'd have been more impressed if he'd apologised to me but I suppose I had my scary face on. Note to self – try not to wear your scary face so often!

I'm breaking in a new pair of glasses as well as a new laptop and that's not a great way to start the jottings season. I've had this pair remade once but they're still making me squint and I'm tempted to slip back into my old ones and give up on them. Is it just me? Does anyone else have this much trouble getting used to new specs? As for this laptop – its supposed to be faster than lightening and with a whole Pterodactyl of memory (mind you, it has a great spell check – who knew that was how you spell Pterodactyl?) I won't be beaten by Windows 10 although I would welcome any suggestions from anyone who has tamed the beast.

Tonight, we're moored in Whittington with only 22 miles and 11 locks completed so far. Carl is being very gentle with me, I started with just 1 lock and gradually increased every day – I'm up to 4 locks and a swing bridge today which is hardly anything really when I think of the the 239 locks still to do to get to our destination.

That's enough of my witterings for one day – I'll be back next week with more tales from the tow-path. Have a lovely week everyone

Lots of Love
The Floating Chandlers

PS Tricky has been wagging her tail this week – I think she's happy to be back in her usual place on the hatch but its hard to tell!

PPS * Mushrooms are bits of brass, shaped like a mushroom, attached to the roof to allow air to circulate. They need polishing much to often for my liking

Captain Carl in the weed hatch

Mushrooms or Toadstools?


Alrewas Churchyard