We left Market Drayton on Wednesday at 5am, yes 5am - intention was to beat the rain which was forecast to start on a canal near us at around 7am. We knew we could leave later if the forecast was correct and the weather cleared, but not for us the late leaving! Well, the honour of the convoy was at stake - Mick, Julia and John were leaving Braunston at 5.30am, and we could not let them down by being slug-abeds.
Anyway, the sunrise was an amazingly vibrant red - the photo doesn't do it justice. There is an explanation which David could give re reds and lenses etc, but I am not at this point privy to it, so you'll have to make it up for yourself.
|Sunrise through the trees at Market Drayton. David scoffs at the Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning saying, but the old folks are not wrong ...|
So off we went, as silently as we could with a 4 cylinder diesel engine in tickover. Elsan and rubbish emptied at the services (important to have an almost empty pee dunny when guests arrive and no rubbish lurking - not to mention the empty wine bottles that were rapidly accumulated yesterday when we ditched the home-made elderflower cordial that was happily fermenting in the locker - we did consider leaving it to convert to wine of its own accord, but decided David's Crabbie's alcoholic ginger beer was more deserving of locker space - yes, that is David's new tipple, and as Asda had it on special, we had to get lots.) Don't anyone ever tell me I don't take care of that man!)
Anyway, much as David tells me it'll only be a 5 minute job to do the services things, it is always a good 20 minutes - by the time he's tied up (even one rope takes time), then got the pee portion of the portable dunny, taken it away, emptied and rinsed it and brought it back, then collected the rubbish off the seat at the stern and taken that away and come back, and pushed off again (I'd undone the rope), 20 minutes plus have been taken up of rain-free cruising time. I am leading to something here, so bear with me.
So on we trundled at a gentle pace - it was so peaceful being up and moving at that time. There are several stretches where tickover was required - lots of permanent moorings on the offside, and I'd have to say they looked to be attractive. One had a sign that moorings were available and I should have taken a photo to get the number. I wonder if they do temporary moorings - on the way back, I will call the number and ask.
Our arrival at the top Adderley Lock coincided with the arrival of the rain - at least 30 minutes before schedule! At first the precipitation was gentle, but it increased in stamina as we proceeded. It was never pounding down, but it was definitely a soaking rain and David's hat did a good job of keeping my glasses from needing windscreen wipers!
David biked between the locks and, yes Julia, he was careful! He even did the out and back setting one ahead and coming back to open the one I was in. He does love his folding bike, so thank you, Neill and Neil!
I hovered in the bridge hole before the top Audlem Lock and David went ahead to see if there was mooring there, so we could scout ahead to below the second lock.
|I am lurking in the bridge hole, and it may look bright behind me, but trust me, it was persisting down. David's hat was drenched. And even though I look grumpy, I was pretty happy, just a bit chilly.|
|I've made this photo big so you can see the rain on the surface of the canal. The pram cover is drenched, the rooftop allotment was thoroughly watered, but unfortunately the boat didn't seem to get any cleaner and nor did the ropes!|
We finally moored up after the second lock in the Audlem Flight at 8.30am. David was soaked to the skin but my Kathmandu jacket had kept me dry - my shorts and legs were soaked though. We soon warmed up with the Webasto making the boat toasty (thanks, Ed). And after a quick visit from Tim and the grandsons on their way to the water park at Stoke on Trent, we had brekkie that seemed quite late, but actually was not (10am).
After a blobby afternoon, we headed off for an early dinner at The Lord Combermere pub in Audlem - the reviews were excellent and I looked forward to some gastropub food. Their chardonnnay was listed as being from Italy,it was fine and the food was very very nice. Definitely on our 'let's go again, list.
Then back to the boat and wait for Helen and Mike the next day. Yay, at last!