Sunday, 20 August 2017

Drones and Drunks

Sunny walk at Stoke Lock
Morning you lovely people

Almost as soon as we set foot on the Trent and Mersey Canal on Friday, I remembered just why we scarpered off up the Witham in the first place! There are boats everywhere since we arrived back at Shardlow on Friday, hire boats, share boats, shiny boats, cruisers and canoes - you name it, everyone's out making the most of summer, in between the showers. Although we have made the trip down the Trent several times now, it's always a relief to get back on the canals. Tricky is very happy to be back on the canals too - neither of us liked the floating pontoon moorings much - they rock as you walk along them and Tricky had trouble working out which way to go to find the grass. We've resumed our morning routine of a brisk walk along the towpath while Carl chugs along behind – this makes us both very happy. Right now, we are moored by the tow-path in Burton and she just has to hop over the gunwale to find as much grass as a little dog needs - if she was any happier she might wag her tail!
Stoke Lock 


We took a marina mooring in Newark for a couple of nights last weekend and had the luxury of an electric hookup and our own water tap. It was a novelty to be able to boil the electric kettle and use the immersion heater but it soon wore off . I was soon tired of the view too - a huge red and white Dutch barge blocked all the light from our port side windows and a navy blue narrowboat moored to our starboard. It was nice walk into town from the Marina so I left Carl fitting a new kitchen tap and went shopping to avoid any chance of making a helpful suggestion that might lead to a row. When you've been married for a few years, you learn to spot the danger signs and so I took myself and my sarcasm to the 'Secret Garden' coffee shop and everyone was happy.
Floating Pontoon - Tricky's puzzled

The sun was shining as we came out of Gunthorpe Lock on Monday and we motored on under the road bridge and down the sparkling river towards Stoke Lock with our fingers crossed for a space on the floating pontoon for the night. We were chugging along, enjoying the sun and minding our own business when a couple of drones flew along the river towards us. They hovered just overhead, zooming backwards and forwards and filming us as we went along. It was very annoying, the noise and the spying eyes in the sky, the way they followed us along, circling around the boat and watching us. I bet I'm on someone's YouTube channel, scowling and frowning like Victor Meldrew - I was wishing I had a catapult so I could shoot the blasted thing down! My good humour was restored when we reached Stoke Lock to find that we had the whole place to ourselves – not a single boat anywhere.

Windy in Shardlow

It was a sharp contrast to be plunged into the heart of Nottingham city the next night – the traffic noise was interrupted by a woman continually calling her dog. I think his name was Hugo or HHHHHuuuuuugggggoooo which she yelled repeatedly right by my cabin porthole where I was deeply engrossed in the latest Scarpetta autopsy. Naughty dog Hugo didn't come in and she wandered backwards and forwards yelling his name at the top of her voice until, finally, the rain came – thank goodness.
Swarkestone Lock

When Carl and I decided to take the train from Nottingham to visit my Mum, I thought about the train being packed to the rafters with holiday makers but then how bad could it be? It's only a short trip, 20 mins or so and Tricky likes trains and sits nicely without bothering anyone which is more than could be said for the two middle aged beer swilling stinkers behind us who proceeded to gas the crowded carriage out with their bodily functions. I wasn't expecting such behaviour on the early train out of Nottingham! We were all very British about it - everyone ignored the belching and swearing and the trolley steward got on their good side by finding them the largest can of lager available for their £3.30. I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't going all the way to Skeggy with that delightful pair! The train trip was soon forgotten - I had a lovely day with Mum, her garden is looking a treat and so is she. We sat outside watching the house martins swooping over the roof and I took a selfie of us which made us both giggle.

Mum and me

Travelling from Shardlow to our mooring tonight in Burton-upon-Trent, I'm reminded of our first boat, Moonshine. When we were both still working, and could only get away at weekends to cruise, we went up and down the Trent and Mersey - Alrewas one week end and Shardlow the next. Ten years later and we're still loving our boating life just as much now as we did then - I feel so lucky. I don't know why I'm moaning on to you about drones and drunks when I should be writing about the beauty that is all around us as we cruise along the canal. I rolled the cover up this morning and found a little newt sheltering there from the rain - he wasn't keen on moving either, but in the end we persuaded him to catch a ride on the shovel back to the safety of the long grass. We find all sorts of wildlife under the cratch cover in the mornings and caterpillars hitch a ride inside on your shoe, spiders are partying in every corner and I expect to see the Daddy Long-legs any day now. Have you noticed that the hedgerows are suddenly bursting with red berries? The hawthorn, especially, is preparing a feast for the birds as they start to gather on the wires ready for their long flight south. It's too soon for autumn, I need another burst of summer before I get my jumpers out of storage!

It's raining again folks – Carl got the paint out this afternoon but as soon as he went outside to start the sanding down, the clouds gathered and the rain began to fall. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Have a lovely week my dear friends and I'll write again next week.

Lots of love and hugs

The Floating Chandlers

ps I've had a few enquiries about 'The bird that must not be named' - Carl was referring to the Kingfisher of course (I got it wrong too - I thought he was talking about the shag!)

Holme Pierrepont