Thursday, 3 July 2014

An overdue catch up

We left Fradley Junction not particularly early on Monday – as we were undoing the ropes a man came to chat – he and his wife are NZers who have hired a boat for 6 weeks and have done a huge amount of boating. They are from Napier. Of course they had recognised Waka Huia as an NZ name.
We had a bit of a mutual meltdown at Rugeley – we missed the opportunity to have 2 main meals for the price of one at The Ash Tree, and then I missed seeing the VERY LARGE Tescos at Rugeley until I was past all of the visitor moorings. What an idiot I am – I was looking on the port side of the cut rather than starboard. Silly woman!

We stopped for lunch, recovered our equilibrium and then moved on to Great Haywood. We had a lovely mooring there, with views of both Shugbrough Hall and the folly in the grounds.
We spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday there. It was beautifully peaceful and I am sure we will spend many more days there over the next few years.
David spent some time sorting out the TV aerial wiring – he had to find a way to get the coax down into the boat without having it come through the front doors. He managed to get it through the hole that the previous owners had their satellite cables in. It did require use of the battery drill which involved my participation. I do need to sort out properly how the chuck works – some instruction from son Tim on Saturday, methinks.
Rust removal process is now underway
I did some boat maintenance outside: I put another coat of paint at the stern, sanded and varnished the wooden part of the duck hatch lid, and scraped (using the fab wire brush which has a scraper that came into play in a big way) some rust spots on the roof along the handrail and under the stern hatch, then I painted them with some rust removal liquid.
The duck hatch cover has been sanded

And varnished - there is another piece which came off unaided, now waiting to be glued and screwed back on

After he’d checked the weedhatch, David also did a bit of manly looking at the engine – I cannot remember what he was looking at – coolant level, checking for water in the bilge, or some such. Anyway, he had both engine bays open - the one over the weedhatch and the actual engine cover. They have a piece of steel between them, for standing on and for the lids to rest on. So David finishes his manly checking and starts to close the engine bay lid, while standing on the steel bar. Of course the engine bay lid won’t close with him standing on its stern rest so he steps backwards into the void of the weedhatch bay … Sh*t!!!
He can still move quickly, I am pleased to report – he let go of the engine cover and grabbed for the side of the semi-trad upright – fortunately it too is made of steel and firmly welded to the deck … So he has a bruise on his arm where he scraped it on the doorway, but apart from that he came off unscathed. It could have been much worse – back injury, broken leg. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! It does remind me of the time many years ago when he walked backwards along the scaffolding plank to admire his painting. I casually asked him not to step off the end. He stopped in a hurry and said he would have stepped off – he’d forgotten he was 10 feet in the air. So, I am not sure whether to be relieved that this is clearly not the onset of senility or anxious about whether these incidents will increase now …
Texting Lesley after the abortive trip over towards Shugborough Hall
After that trauma, late on Tuesday morning we set off to Shugborough Hall only to find that it is closed on Tuesdays; bother!! So instead we went to the restaurant beside the lock for lunch (yummy ham roast, Yorkshire pudding and veges)  and then we walked down the towpath to the Great Haywood Junction, across to the Canal Farm Shop (shopped a fair bit) and then along a bridle path into Great Haywood village, shopped at the SPAR shop and then back to the boat. I baked a rhubarb cake – had to substitute cream cheese and milk for sour cream and baking powder for baking soda, but it tastes OK (clearly, as David ate a huge amount of it …)
In the early evening we saw a hot air balloon landing in the grounds of Shugborough Hall – very lovely.

This bridge wasn't wide enough for a horse and carriage so another bridge had to be built so that the Hall residents didn't have to walk 300 yards to church ...
Shugborough Hall which I have still not been inside!

Wednesday morning we set off early and as we did, a balloon was ascending from the same place – I’m not sure if it was the same one though: I will need to check the photos … (Not same balloon – strange that I didn’t notice the colour or the labelling – I am clearly not an advertiser’s dream client).
We made our way to Stone, with a stop above Aston Lock for a couple of hours while we had lunch (yummy salad with Adair’s dressing – honey, lemon juice and grated green ginger - and tuna mayonnaise) and worked out where we should have lunch with Michelle and Taffy on Friday and pick up Olek (our favourite elder grandson) on Saturday.
Having made that decision, we set off again, and got here to the top lock at Stone. At one lock we chatted with an Australian guy from Mackay near Brisbane. I think his name was Murray. We also met people who were absolutely convinced that Mel is a sheep – what do they know?
We had a lovely mooring opposite a small working boatyard at Stone. I planted the lettuces and rocket in the long tray pots and I had to search and scavenge stones to weigh them down. We went  back to Stone Boat Builder’s chandlery to buy a bow button – we have taken out a mortgage.
After that, David made dinner – cheese and tomato on crackers, plus a fruit platter and a glass of elderberry cordial.
This morning, I’ve vacuumed, swept and washed the floors throughout the boat – very hot work – cooked a pot of mince for cottage pie on Saturday and chopped the meat for a chilli for lunch with Michelle and Taffy tomorrow. David has valiantly and, with absolutely no swearing that I could hear, completed and filed his tax return. I get a refund of about $400 and he has about $350 to pay. Yahoo, guess I’ll be the one out spending up large then, not!
When David had his brekkie, he headed back to the chandlers and to Morrisons, then we went off to Stoke – about 17 lock miles so there were a few hours of boating done. We are aiming to moor up just before the Harecastle Tunnel so we can be early in line for the first journey deep below the earth tomorrow morning – I hate that tunnel!
Update: Here we are at the tunnel entrance, first in line for tomorrow morning at 8am. Yay!! Probably my worst mooring up effort ever, even back when I couldn’t handle a narrowboat – I was all over the place with, of course, 2 CRT men watching. However, we had a good chat with them. One had an NZ father who was from Greytown. A very small world indeed.

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