Thursday, 7 September 2017

Not my two best tricks ...

The day before yesterday we had a lie in while waiting for Dave Freeman to come and change our gas regulator from butane to propane (I think). All done in a trice and over we moved to get diesel before heading away, in the sunshine.

See the piglets to the left of the blue bin? They have made bigger an opening in the netting of their compound and can escape. However when Dave Freeman's wife Rachel, came to serve our diesel and told them to get back into the pen, they scurried off to do as she instructed!

... which lasted about 15 minutes before turning into liquid again. So we moored up by the aqueduct at Rugeley, and blobbed for the afternoon - some rain, some sun, but more of the former was my impression. So not a busy day.

As we need to be at Mercia Marina by Friday, and as the weather is meant to be a bit pants until then, we decided to take advantage of good weather yesterday and set off early with a stop to do supermarketing at Rugeley.

All was well, as we pulled up at the moorings (not a bridge too far, but a bridge too soon, but hey ho). But we were close to the bridge and I needed to move backwards to ensure space for other boaters to get through the bridgehole. To assist the stopping action, I put the boat in reverse and stepped off with the middle rope, with the intention of getting David to put the boat in neutral. Quel horreur! he stepped off the front with a rope, and there was the boat steaming backwards with no-one aboard!!!

With the strength born of a desperate desire not to demolish any other moored boats or off-side properties, David hauled the bow close enough to the side to be able to leap onboard. He raced through the boat and up on to the deck, and slapped the boat into neutral. Of course it was still moving quite quickly backwards, so he then put it in forward to avoid ramming an offside fence...

The poor ducks who were peaceably going about their own business, were tossed and flipped by the violent wake. They quacked loudly and said he was imprinted on their genetic memory - he was the man who at 3am 40 years ago drove through a flock of their ancestors peaceably sleeping (see a theme?) in the middle of Marahau Road outside Maxwell. His excuse? 40 years ago he was driving me and the pregnant belly (plus 22 month old Tim) to hospital so that Kirsty would be born.

[Given his next trick on that journey was to almost bowl a black poll angus steer that was on the road (did you get that we lived in the country then?), Kirsty decided not to enter the world quite yet so home we went in the morning. Kirsty waited another few days to make sure it was safe, and then I drove us all into town - David said he knew when I was having contractions as I drove in the middle of the road. Seemed sensible to me, as I needed to be prepared for any swerving that may come upon me involuntarily ...]

So back to yesterday morning - David brought the boat successfully to the towpath side, and we tied up. I was shaking a bit but David laughed.

My lesson - DO NOT GET OFF THE BOAT WHILE IT IS IN GEAR! Doing so qualifies as my silliest move yet in my boating history!

In one of the shops near Morrison's I saw this enormous panda. You can see by the height of the door just how large he is. Bruce and Gary, he makes your polar bear look rather diminutive. Dee, you need to show this to Murray and Big Bear - but please, before you do, remind them both that envy is one of the 7 deadly sins, OK?
This narrowboat is up on the hard in a school playground in Rugeley. It is called Discovery and looks as though it is a great piece of playground equipment. If schools weren't so forbidding (notices, intercom systems, locked gates) to enter here, I would have called in to ask to see it and ask how they got it. It looks to be in very good condition on the outside!

Going through the Armitage Tunnel - a very narrow stretch with a corner in it, so a crew member has to go ahead to check the way is clear. David took his new bright LED light and did three short flashes (behave!!) to let me know I could come on through. He does like his new light!

You can see how close the wall is. The rock was cut to create the channel - probably cheaper and quicker than building locks up and locks down, I expect, and quicker and cheaper than taking the canal around the hillside.

I do love the allotment system here in the UK. Almost all the ones we see on our travels are well kept and filled with veges growing.

But leaving the boat in gear with no one on it is not the only stupid thing I did yesterday, unfortunately.

Before we left the mooring, I hand washed David's new red shirt as I was clear it would leach colour - as it did, but only into the bowl. David put it on to spin and then hung it on a hanger in the cratch as we cruised along. He did the same with two new bright blue handtowels we had bought. But I, knowing better where to position the hanging-on-a-hanger laundry when it is in a moving cratch, changed the positions of both hangers ... And then, just after exiting a lock, I saw a bright red cloth thing in the water. It was close to the boat, but not close enough. So I put the boat gently in reverse to edge myself a little closer so I could kneel down and swoop it up. Well, that was the plan, and why the water and the red shirt conspired against me, I do not understand!

The red shirt (plus its hanger) swirled away under water and could not be seen. I pulled over on the lock landing and tried to find it with the boat hook, but no luck. I would have kept looking for at least 30 seconds more (not because of the shirt, but because I dread to think of someone getting it and the hanger around their prop). But when David asked why I had stopped (he was about to set off on his bike for the next lock) and I explained his red shirt was no more, he declared that he'd liked it but it was a bit too much like a Manchester United shirt when all was said and done. So search abandoned and hopefully it has already blended into the bottom of the cut, never to cause problems to any boater. If it does, or has, my sincere apologies, people.
It was long day's boating for us and we probably should have moored up at Fradley, as I was approaching my use-by date about then. However we continued on to Alrewas. I can always tell when we are both past it, as we struggle to get moored up somewhere we like - finding a good place is the first problem as we are tired and decisions are hard to make. We tried two unsuitable places, and then, on our third go, settled in a lovely spot and were both too tired to go out anywhere - which was one of the main reasons for coming here, dammit!

Today we moved on from Alrewas, leaving our mooring before 8am. The weather was quite sunny and warm this morning, and the trip down the river section was beautifully peaceful.
Just left the waterpoint at Alrewas

Heading for the lock down to the river section
David opening the lock for me

See how sensible I now am? I have a life jacket on - one that doesn't catch on the tiller thankfully.
And we are off down the river section. No, we don't have to get under that bridge. It's the towpath/footpath.

A sight rarely seen in NZ anymore as farmers are not allowed to have unfenced riverbanks. The effluent from cows, either by directly peeing or pooing into the water, or as run off, is a major contaminant and polluter.

We had planned to go to Burton upon Trent and moor up where we were on the day we met Tony and Helen Porter from nb Holderness back in 2014, but decided instead to stop outside Branston Water Park as it is quite a distance from the ubiquitous A38, and it is where I had wanted to moor a few years ago, but David was sure it would be better (less crowded) above Tatenhill Lock - that time, we ended up moored by the rubbish point and only a few yards away from the A38, but I was so exhausted I was past going any further. You can read about THAT day here: 29 June 2014

I have just re-read that post and it seems I laughed - I don't rmember that, but I do remember being very tired and I do remember being delighted to meet Tony and Helen.

Since mooring at lunchtime
  • we have spoken with Brian and Anne from nb February 22 who moor in Mercia Marina
  • given them our details for a relation in NZ who is interested in living on a narrowboat - please get in touch, Dave, if you are reading this
  • I have finished making the bread I started before we left this morning, and made lunch with some of it (tuna and mayo open sandwiches with tomato)
  • baked a chocolate brownie. It is entirely likely that tonight's dinner will be comprised of dessert ...


Jenny said...

Good old David to the rescue - with a mighty leap aboard to save your ghostly driverless boat from sailing off never to be seen again! What a fright for you both - so pleased it all ended well and no damage was done.

Robin and Jenny, Romany Rambler, now back from Oz

Geoff Turnbull said...

Yes. I am surprised at how many cows I see in the water in the narrow boat blogs I read.

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

Here are the details on the school boat

Marilyn McDonald said...

Thank you for sending me that info, Brian and Diane.
Cheers, M