Sunday, 31 August 2014

We are being sent to Coventry - it's a self drive trip though

We came down from Great Haywood to the moorings above Shadehouse Lock yesterday, with a stop south of Rugeley for water and another at Kings Bromley Marina for a pumpout and diesel – successfully in and reversed on to the pontoon, which was cheering, although I was helped by the wind being in my favour! David set off, with directions on where the rubbish bins were but went about 500m further than required. He phoned and then he walked back – on the return journey the bins were clearly visible, about 50m from where we were moored. Note to self: it is disrespectful to take advantage of or be insensitive to his disability.
Prior to that, at Bridge 58 we encountered a chap who had clearly been to one of the pubs nearby for a (mainly) liquid lunch and was just setting off across my bows as I came through the bridge on a corner. I had to take avoidance action, in one of those situations where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. As he was spread out more than halfway across the cut and not holding his boat back, and there was no room for me to stop, I decided to go to the right of him. So then he reversed … I think it is the first time I have sworn at a boater so that they could hear me.
When we got to Shadehouse Lock moorings, they were full apart from the inevitable gaps between boats. However, as three boaters were sitting out on the towpath, I asked if they’d be able to budge up so we could fit in. They happily did so and helped us get the boat in and tied up with about 2mm to spare front and back – I would not have thought the boat would fit, but they judged it to a nicety. Well done, them, I thought – most impressive. And very kind of them as well.
We decided to go to the Swan for dinner as it is described in Nicholson’s as ‘justly famous’. The pub is about 200 years old I gather, the building is impressive and the beer might be good – we don’t know as we aren’t beer drinkers. However I didn’t try their wine either as it was on tap, and that wasn’t a good sign.
The major thing was though, and no fault of the Swan, I broke a large chunk off a tooth when eating my rather yummy pizza. It is a tooth I had seen the dentist in Johnsonville about before we came away but xrays showed no fissures. For some time it had been hurting and feeling wobbly when I bit hard, and last night was its downfall. So I need to find a dentist locally, but the tooth only hurts now when I eat/drink something cold, something hot or breathe in cold air. So it’s all fine obviously!
Today, by the time we were ready to leave it was after 10am, so it was down two locks and round the corner on to the Coventry Canal. But, stop the presses – an exclusive!! This morning David steered the boat into, down and out of Shadehouse Lock to the next lock mooring!!! And very successfully too, I must say. He did everything slowly and carefully, and I was so pleased it worked well – trauma on the first lock would not be encouraging, eh? I am not sure who was most nervous though – I got so hot with nerves, I had to take my fleecy off and it wasn’t that warm! My nervousness may explain why there are no photos of the event, but I will get some next time.
We’d talked about it last night (and a little bit on previous days) and I reminded him that he had promised that he would learn to steer this year so I didn’t have to do it all the time. Last week, I had suggested that he steer through the Harecastle Tunnel as you can only go straight ahead there, and being partially sighted probably wasn’t a disadvantage in the tunnel. I mean – what can you see when you’re in there? Not a hell of a lot - and I am almost always keeping an eye on the walls right beside me (looking for the distance markers if the truth be told …) and an ear on the sound of the water – does it sound like I am close to the wall or not? He didn’t buy that argument for some reason, and frankly I’m glad. I wouldn’t like him to steer through a tunnel with such variations in its height.
Anyway, he has decided he’ll steer through one lock each day – it’s a good start! Maybe I’ll be able to get him up to a few more each day before we finish for this year in a month …
I did the swing bridge on my own at the turn on to the Coventry, but it hardly counts as an achievement as I stopped the boat in the long narrow channel up to the bridge, moved it one handed, and David arrived to close it, just after a guy came along and said he’d shut it for me.
We are now moored in the sunshine not terribly far from Whittington. The Coventry is another shallow and reed-filled canal. On our Nicholson’s (2003 edition, so we probably bought and used it in 2004) I had recorded last time we were on it that we moored north of Bridge 90A. Well, there is no mooring possible anywhere near there now – there is about a metre and a half of reeds out from the bank.
We had a ‘mare at Bridge 89 where rather than one boat coming through (at the speed of a snail that was so slow you could go and mine, refine, package, shop and have Mr Tesco deliver the salt before putting it on the snail’s tail …), the woman was closely followed by another. I ended up stuck on the off-side and for the first time this trip, David had to pole the boat off. Being stuck also meant I was splayed across the cut and blocking the 2nd boat’s egress from the bridgehole. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! When he could get out, he tried to come out without turning, so started pushing me back on to the off-side. I am not sure how much room he needed but it was more than I was prepared to provide. He then informed me there was another boat about to come through, but I’d had enough by that stage and tooted for the other boat to hold back. They did so and with a bit of manoeuvring we got through. It was not my finest hour and I did apologise to the people on the 3rd boat. They apologised too, so all was fine.
We stopped on a tiny piece of Armco to feed me with pumpkin soup (made this morning before we headed off from Fradley), top me up with magnesium and to decide where to aim for today. A mooring away from the noisy A38 was the edict. There was plenty of Armco within earshot of that dual carriageway, but no one was on it. So here we are near the Huddlesford Junction, enjoying the sunshine at last – there’s been little sitting outside throughout August which has been quite cool and damp at times.
For dinner tonight we are going to have chicken with lime and tarragon which is a recipe our daughter Kirsty taught me a few years ago. I modified it ages ago and we use yoghurt instead of cream. And today a further modification is being tried – instead of adding the garlic, the lime juice and the tarragon after browning the chicken, I made them into a marinade – it’ll make it quicker to cook when we are ready.
It seems to me it is now chardonnay o’clock – hope it doesn’t hurt my tooth though. I’ll be brave …

David getting stuck in while I was getting my proper chair and taking his photo
Update: Dinner has been postponed till tomorrow night – drinks and extensive nibbles outside on the sunny towpath replaced it. 

The woman on the boat next to us has a large Welsh flag

so here is our little NZ flag valiantly flying. Well, we are better than them at rugby ...

And now we have been for a walk towards Whittington, we have found the Plough Inn which looks as tho it may be a starter for a meal at some stage. 

Boats in the evening sun with The Plough in the background - we can find our way back here I think ...
The Lichfield Cruising Club is on the old arm a few hundred metres away, Their rates for annual mooring are very reasonable even adding in the one off membership fee. But not good for people who are away 6 months, as there is no power. to the moorings. I liked the look of this wooden boat - clinker built perhaps, although that usually refers to the hull, I think.

This place is looking very attractive in the evening sun, so we are considering staying on for a few days and exploring the area (Lichfield cathedral is about 1000 years old so must be checked out) as well as doing some boat maintenance (inc changing the oil – my job, gulp … I sense a multiple reading of the manual coming up). Also we can post Kirsty’s birthday card, David’s dvd for the Weaving Memories client, and my application for the UK OAP if I get it done sharpish. Not very motivated though as, even though I would have qualified at 60 if we lived here, it now goes to the NZ government to top up David’s NZ Super until I qualify for that at the end of next year. Not quite sure how that works, but hey ho. Every little bit helps, I guess.

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