Monday, 28 August 2017

What is this? A dry Bank Holiday Monday!? My mum would be astounded and disbelieving!

It has been a lovely few days since I last posted - warm, dry with mooring spots that have been quiet yet sociable, some in villages/towns, and others in the country. We are in between Birmingham and points north and east-ish, so it is a very busy part of the country and canal system. That also means proximity to the region's motorways. It is always with a sense of smugness that we cruise under/alongside them ...

Yesterday we were travelling close to and under a couple of them - the M54 and the M6. And we are now moored up in Penkridge after 5 locks and about 8 miles from Hatherton and we can hear the M6 but it is background noise only.

It's five days since I last posted, I see, and we have moved all of 28 miles from Old Lea Wharf !! Bloody hell, that's a fair distance in 5 days! (Settle down, Mick, I know it's only a day or so for you and Julia!)

We had two nights at Wheaton Aston and would have liked to have overstayed but we are rules-abiding people so we didn't. And David didn't think there was enough to do there, for some reason.

We did have a towpath adventure in Wheaton Aston though - courtesy of 83 year old Ron from the boat moored behind us. He was sitting out on the towpath and when he went to stand, he managed to overbalance his chair and ended up splat on the grass. He could not get up; his wife, Jean, couldn't help him up; and actually, neither could David and I without him wincing in pain from ribs he'd bruised a couple of days before when he tripped on the towpath. (There is a pattern, methinks.)

So David persuaded Jean to call an ambulance. She did say he had said she shouldn't, but I asked her how he was going to stop her from where he was ... We put pillows and cushions under his head and shoulders and made sure he was comfortable, and his dogs stayed close by. Gill and Steve from the boat in front were first aiders and they agreed the ambulance was the best idea.

The paramedics took a fair while to arrive as the originally-dispatched crew had been diverted to an accident on the M6. But when they did come, they were brilliant - they had a fabulous manner with Ron - jovial and chatty while very efficient in checking him over, they very speedily lifted him up into a chair (one of ours not the capsizy one) ignoring that it hurt as they knew (we didn't) that he hadn't got a rib likely to puncture a lung. And then they checked his blood pressure (rather high), oxygen in the blood, as well as checking his heart with a portable ECG thingummy. They checked his blood pressure about 4 times as he sat, and checked his heart a couple of times. They phoned his doctor's surgery in Redditch to get him a script for more of the pain killers he was on for arthritis (which they called Arthur - said he gets everywhere), and then went to the pharmacy in Wheaton Aston to collect the filled script - what champions they are: so kind and helpful as well as efficient and caring.

Ron looking and feeling a lot better now he's sitting back on the boat and any hint of hospital has disappeared, John, Jean and Kurt. John and Kurt are STARS!!!
Pretty early on Saturday (it was light but not warm) we left Wheaton Aston and were moored up by about 10.30am between Bridges 8 and 7. In the meantime we had managed to p*ss off a guy who was mooring up just through the bridge-hole at Brewood. I was in tickover - as I almost always am going through narrow bridge-holes - but he said that I could be going a bit slower. Well, not really, mate. His problem was that he was tying up just out of a bridge-hole and the water was eddying quite dramatically where the canal width increased. Nothing I could do about it even if I'd slowed down - the eddying was already underway from my bow and the bridge-hole.

Moving along (at tickover past the moored boats, of course) through the depths of the gloom along that stretch - bloody hell, some of it is dark along the embankments (great pieces of engineering construction - Stretton Spoil Banks, as well as past Brewood - said Brood) which have wonderful trees growing on both sides. But we are clear we wouldn't want to boat through there in high winds as many of the trees look like they are very precariously holding on to the banks and are sloping out searching for sunlight - they require it for photosynthesis, don't you know? For some of them, their search will end in tears as they'll fall and be chopped up with a chainsaw and end up in boaters' fireplaces!

We had been aiming to get down to Bridge 4 to meet Ed, Lisa and Esme, but decided that the mooring between Bridges 8 and 7 was too lovely to pass by.
It is lovely - we spoke to some other boaters (Mandy and Paul on Earls of Rohan) who decided not to pass by but to stop. They told us they often moor up here with other members of the Wolverhampton Boat Club.

It was a beautiful spot, and the midges thought so too...

BLTs for brekkie - made and eaten after 3 hours of boating

Followed by Gu lemon cheesecakes - it was nearly lunchtime, after all - and we didn't have any lunch. I think David is laughing guiltily somehow!
After brekkie I made cheese scones (and for the second time in a row managed to miss out an ingredient - the first time it was the cayenne pepper which is easy enough to sort - sprinkle some on the cut scone before buttering). This time, as I wondered why they were taking so long to cook (I had rather ODed on the cheese and thought they may be frying in cheese fat), I realised as I took them out of the oven that I had forgotten the baking powder - well they couldn't be served to Ed and Lisa then! They tasted fine, but were stodgy scones** not light and fluffy ones. Fortunately the bread was successful ... and the ham wasn't too bad either. And the potato salad was yum. Thanks to Olek who likes his mum's potato salad, I now make it the same way and it is great! If you are interested the only ingredients are chopped mint [mint jelly spooned through works too], hard boiled eggs and mayo - plus potatoes, natch.

We had a lovely time with the Shiers - drinks and nibbles on the towpath followed by dinner inside. Ed fitted 4 more LED lights for us, so now we can have lights on whenever we want.

After they left I smothered my bites in Anthisan which was helpful, but a phenergan tablet was required to take the edge off the itching that night so I could sleep!

There are a lot of these trees with bright orange berries now - don't know what they are, but they are lovely and very striking, and as Rob will tell you, I don't like orange flowers, so go figure.
** Suitable for lunch en route toasted, buttered and served with sliced tomato on top.

Yesterday we made it as far as Hatherton Marina, having come down the rest of the Shroppie and turned on to the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal at Autherley Junction - that is really close to Wolverhampton, but you wouldn't know that a bustling urban centre was there. The canals are good like that!
The sky was so clear and the water so still yesterday morning that I could see perfect reflections - had to be quick taking the photo though before the ripples from the bow wave could mar the surface.

See, another sunny day!

I cannot remember where this was but I thought it was a wonderful way to shield a window - there was a very good crop of beans on it too.

We liked this floral display but would struggle to tell you where it is!

And I liked this wharf - certainly attractive and very effective at stopping anyone mooring there!

Yesterday arvo, we sat inside mostly, watching TV - I know I sound like I am not satisfied with the weather whether it's sunny or wet, but it was the bugs that kept me inside... And David found the Irish chocolates that Leonie and Paul had brought on board. Well, that was the end of them! But to make matters worse before that, we had Gu puddings at lunchtime ... So, today is a fasting day.

Today we left at just before 8 and it is the first time I have actually been grumpy with a hirer. I generally find hirers are polite, courteous, keen not to jump queues, and in fact as we came through the very narrow cutting just up from Autherley Junction yesterday, I had to suggest to a couple of them that they shouldn't hang back at the entrance being so polite but make their way to the passing bays or otherwise they'd be spending their week there!

Anyway, this morning's offending hirers were moored up behind us, with no one in sight until we started our engine. Then out they dived, started up, untied, and pushed off past us at the speed of light. They did say good morning and I responded, but also said that I wasn't happy they'd only come out when they'd heard us start up. We sat back and waited a few minutes to let them get ahead, and then found they dawdled a fair bit ... GGGRRR. And then, bugger me days, they were returning the boat at Gailey. Thinking/realising they had probably been on a timetable for a 9am return, I went up and said to them that I hadn't wanted to spoil their holiday but if they had let me know they were on a schedule, I wouldn't have minded their taking off ahead of us. The woman told me that they were back half an hour early ... Ah well, such is life in the slow lane!

We have chatted with the people moored up in front of us - they paid £20k for their boat without a survey and have had to re-plate the bottom, get a reconditioned engine fitted, replace the central heating, replace the washing machine ... Today, the woman was scraping and putting fertan (rust treatment) on the base plate under the engine (what? has the new steel rusted already?) The guy tells me they are still within budget as they had put aside £50k for a boat and they have spent £20k on fixing/replacing stuff. Interesting logic. However I would be stunned if they got anything like £40k when they try to sell it - closer to the original amount they bought it for, I would think. By the way, they do now recommend that people get a survey before purchasing ...

We are now about to walk into Penkridge to the Coop. I do hope Jaspers isn't open today or there will be no fasting for me, even if David continues!

Update: A successful visit into Penkridge as
  • the only shop we went to was the Coop and we didn't buy anything nortee. We checked out other 48 hour moorings and worked out where we'd like to move to tomorrow so we are closer to the town and the restaurant and Jaspers (for Tuesday) and the market for Wednesday ...
  • we also saw the people on Felicitas again and hopefully will see them again - they are trundling up and down this patch and we first saw them at Market Drayton I think - well, that was when we first spoke to them;
  • the people on nb Whisper spoke to me at the lock on our way back from the Coop - she recognised the accent (what accent? I don't have one!) and asked if we were on Waka Huia - they had met us a few years ago on the Hatton flight. 

So all in all a good day so far, even if there is loud music emanating from the Cross Keys pub (DJ and records) at least it's music I am familiar with and quite tuneful. Mind you, currently I can't hear it as I've put my earplugs in. All in preparation for a nana nap of course ...


Anonymous said...

Are you coming down to Stourport or turning off to Brum Bill

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

Do you fly a large flag from the stern, We also saw Whisper just setting off