David and I decided to go up to Mercia Marina to have Mike Coates over to ours for dinner, Julia went home to do laundry and Mick went back and met her at Loughborough.
Dinner with Mike was fun - he is a very chuckly guy and it was great to see him looking so well. a heart attack late last year knocked him for 6, but a pacemaker and defibrillator fitted about 6 weeks ago seem to have improved things for him. Whatever else, his sense of humour hasn't diminished, although his waistline has ...
I think his memory or concentration may be faulty though - in the morning he took me to Aldi at Hilton. I had no idea where Hilton was - or even that it existed. But after turning right out of Findern Lane and travelling for a few minutes, he suddenly said 'Bugger, I've come the wrong way!' A quick turn around and back we went. Then I discovered that to get to Hilton, we had to go through Willington village - about 100m from the Coop that David was walking to. Now Mike knew David was going to the Coop, but never said ... See, he's losing it!
So after much grocery shopping by David and me in Willington and Hilton, and by Mick and Julia in Loughborough (pies and wine) we all set off back towards Sawley to join up again. David and I didn't think we would get there in one day but thought we'd get further than we did - the hold up was a brand new widebeam on its maiden voyage with a totally novice crew. I have seen snails move quicker. David helped them at Swarkstone Lock - their first on their own, and even though they then had a head start of at least 25 minutes, we caught them up before Weston Lock. David disembarked and walked/dawdled along to ask them where they were intending to stop (Sawley), and when they would get started in the morning if they didn't get to Sawley (9am). So we moored up in a lovely spot across from Weston House/Manor I think, and I did a bit of lunch making (gammon, coleslaw, avocado) then David did a bit of painting and I did a bit of blobbing and bread making. Then it was time for a chardonnay and cider and fresh bread, then bedtime. SOOOO busy!
This morning, although Mick had told us last night that the widebeam had arrived in Sawley, we still got up and left early, i.e. at 6.17am to be precise. I did think we may not be going quite so early as the rain was persisting down until about 5.45. It cleared and I made the call.
Not sure why, but the pound between Weston and Aston locks was way down - by about 16" (that's 400mm to the good guys), and I crept along staying right in the middle in case of grounding - not such a cool thing when on your own with no one around to call on for help.
We had heard last night from a passing boater that the widebeam had grounded below Weston Lock and I was not surprised.
|Lots of the bank showing all along this pound. And the weir was dry above Aston Lock - I put the nose into the lock mooring to let David off but was careful not to come alongside in case we got grounded.|
All was well from Aston Lock though, so normal service was resumed and we hoofed it along, arriving at Sawley ahead of Mick's projected ETA of 9.30. And as we headed off to Sawley Cafe for a yummy breakfast and discussion of plans for the weekend, David called out hello to the people on a widebeam coming through the bridgehole - yes, it was yesterday's widebeam - I had seen it at Shardlow this morning but had not known it was the Slow Boat to China (OK, you have to have had a mum who constantly sang songs from the 30s, 40s and 50s ...)
|Doorstep slices of toast|
|My big breakfast minus the black pudding that was donated to Mick, who had the small (not much smaller) breakfast that came without black pudding - but not for long ...|
|David had eggs benedict (he asked for eggs benny, but the waitress didn't understand what he meant - clearly not a regular at Jan's Cafe in Paraparaumu then ...). He said these were nice but not as good as Murray cooks at Jan's.|
Breakfast planning session brought on a change: We had intended to go down to Gunthorpe, but with the Bank Holiday coming up, the kybosh was put on that as moorings there are very few in number and very low in capacity. And it's a long way between places to settle. David was all for resting at anchor, but Mick didn't seem keen for some reason ...
So the decision was made to come to Shardlow for a variety of reasons:
- it has a bus service (J&M)
- it has space and sunshine for painting (D)
- it's not far away (M)
- it's a nice place and I haven't yet seen the museum thing (M)
Instead we all came back to Sawley on Saturday and have been here since, overstaying on the 48 hour moorings, while we wait for the lovely Ed to come and sort out a new alternator and an additional solar panel. More of the Sawley adventures in a soon to be prepared blog post - this one is already days late in being posted!
Two things of interest to those of a salacious nature for a disaster/near miss story and those of a scatalogical bent:
- As we left Swarkstone Lock on Wednesday we encountered two kayaks full of women out on a 50th birthday party jolly. It nearly ended in disaster for one kayakful, when they cut across our bows purely by accident - they had no control, no knowledge of the physics of water movement or how paddling works, and no innate skill. It's a good thing for us all that I could see from way back that they were clueless - it may have been the sign above their heads or possibly it was that they heard us coming and let go of the bank and started paddling, all on one side ... It's also a good thing that reverse is quite a powerful force in Waka Huia. And best of all, I didn't have to clean up blood and bones and matchstick bits of kayak.
- In the early morning cruise towards Sawley I watched a heron leave the towpath and fly across a field (more sensible than their usual trick of flying a bit further ahead, and repeat ad infinitum). As it flew across the field it let rip with a massive poo/pee - orange it was, and came out and dropped in a liquid sheet. Note to self: never be below a flying heron.