Saturday 30 September 2017


Yesterday afternoon we took a walk into Adderley village – partly for the exercise and partly to see if we could find a way of getting on-line to put up the blog post. There's a bridge over a disused railway line, and that's where the lady pointed, with a wry laugh, when I asked her about the best spot for a mobile signal.

I stood there, laptop in hand, dongle in laptop. Not a hope! So it was onto WiFi – one of our reasons for being a BT customer at home is that everyone who uses a BT internet hub makes available a local hotspot by default. Sure enough, as I stood by the bridge, I was picking up a strong WiFi signal. I just couldn't see where it was coming from. The only likely source within range was the fibre broadband junction box opposite.

I had no idea that such things might broadcast a WiFi signal, but there didn't seem to be anything else near enough. Be that as it may, the actual speed of connection didn't match the apparent strength of the signal, certainly not enough to log on to Blogger. What to do? Easy! We wandered down Rectory Lane between some houses until my computer showed I had another strong signal. Logged on, and this time it worked a treat. I have only the vaguest idea of whose BT hub we piggy-backed on, but it was enough to send yesterday's blog post. I've occasionally used BT WiFi hotspots in cafés and so on, but this was a first – sauntering down a road, laptop in hand, waiting for a signal to show up!

It great when you have a working system. Today we came down 13 of the 15 locks of the Audlem flight.

We've developed ways of managing such a task, which involves us both in paddle and gate operations. My best beloved does one side, while I do the other and then climb down onto Erin Mae to take her out of the lock once the bottom gates are open. Occasionally it is helpful, while the water level is dropping, for me to walk on down to the next lock to get it set and the top gates open, so that I can take Erin Mae straight in without trying the negotiate the shallow edges of the pounds.

So we've tied up in Audlem, and found ourselves just behind Adrian and Dawn in NB Chalico, our neighbours at Great Haywood. Thanks for the help getting into the space, Adrian! We're well in time for the folk session in the Shroppie Fly tomorrow night, but the rain has come early. In fact it's so miserable outside that, instead of putting up a photo of our mooring, I'm going to finish with a shot out of the side-hatch from last night, just to remind us that not every evening is as awful as this one.

Friday 29 September 2017

Signs of things to come

Setting out when it seemed the overnight rain had finally finished, we did the 3 miles to Adderley and came down this flight of five locks. In three of them we crossed with a boat coming up, which cuts the work in half.

This flight is preparatory to the Audlem flight of fifteen, which we hope to do tomorrow, and where you feel you are really coming down towards the Cheshire plain. Appropriately, we passed these as we descended.

Cheshire is, for us, the black and white county and we expect to see a great many more Fresians. In the same field was this flock of gulls (I take it). It’s a bit worrying to see them gathered in this way. Even if it wasn’t a worm-fest, I suspect it’s a sign of significant wetness, and the forecast for Sunday is currently pretty appalling.

But, for now, we’ve tied up in a spot that is sunny and remote – so remote that there’s no mobile signal, and I can’t see any TV aerials on the few houses within sight. But it’s sunny and calm and peaceful, and we are about to enjoy a magnificent fritada prepared by my best beloved.

After that we shall have to go for a walk into the village to work it off, and to see whether I can find some sort of wifi signal to post this. If you’re reading it on Friday, you’ll know I succeeded.

Thursday 28 September 2017


Somehow it seems necessary, whenever we travel this stretch of the Shroppie, to take yet more photos of the same landmarks. It's strange, because it's not as though any of them are likely to have changed appearance. There's the odd High Bridge (Bridge 39) in Grub Street cutting, north of Norbury Junction.

For those who haven't seen countless pictures of this bridge on boaters' blogs, that's a telegraph pole mounted on the mezzanine.

It appears to serve no purpose whatsoever, apart from that of whimsy. Unlike the Anchor Inn, whose purpose is clear, but whose existence is a mystery, given its isolation and tiny facilities.

They still advertise a Gift Shop, but I've yet to see any evidence that one actually exists. Perhaps it's one way to keep the trade coming.

No longer getting any trade by way of the canal is the factory whose wharf used to see a lot of chocolate floating away to Bourneville.

It now just seems to provide shelter for the occasional boat, while the Knighton factory behind just makes milk powder. What they need reserved moorings for is anybody's guess.

A little further on is Woodseaves Cutting, boasting both another single track with passing places and a bridge competing for height with the "High Bridge" above.

When that finally comes to an end, we reach the last of the obligatory photo-opportunities – Tyrley locks. These are notable on three accounts. First, in the sunshine they are wonderfully picturesque, especially the cottages at the top lock of the five.

Secondly, the beckoning view from the top…

gives no hint of what awaits in the bottom pound of the four. Pity the boater who decides to pull across to the towpath side, to pass another boat or to work the lock. Grounding at that point is one of the few certainties of the inland waterways. Thirdly, should you be coming the other way, it is wise to take no liberties with the bywash of the bottom lock. It can catch you most horribly.

Apart from all that, the Tyrley flight is a joy, and ends with another delight.

I've never really understood fishing, in the form in which it is practised by most of the fishermen we pass. And they are not even uniform in what they'd like from the passing boater (apart from getting off their canal). Some want you to cut the engine, some like you to churn up the bottom. There's really no telling.

One well-understood obligation, however, is to cut your speed when passing moored boats – an obvious courtesy. It only grates a little when you get this:

On several sections of today's leg the moorings seemed to go on for miles and miles. Not that we were really in a hurry, of course. But we did want to cram in a day and a half's travel while the sun was shining. Tomorrow is looking distinctly wetter.

Wednesday 27 September 2017


Cloudy and grey it was today, but at least it didn't rain until we were ready to tie up tonight. This was the first leg of our journey entirely on the Shroppie. I had a good idea of how far we could get today, and it worked out pretty well, taking into account the interruptions.

First was a stop in Brewood. Ostensibly for shopping for a few essentials but, on a morning like this, we didn't like to turn down the idea of coffee and cake at "the mess bistro". I thought I'd better put that in inverted commas, in case you thought I was getting careless with my capitals. We also remembered the bakers down Stafford Street, who do an extremely good ham salad baton. The person serving me (let's call her Annie) said she was the fastest sandwich-maker in the West (Midlands), and counted it a point of honour to get ours prepared before the snack being heated in the oven by a colleague was ready for another customer!

Back on Erin Mae we headed off for the only lock on the southern stretch of the Shroppie, at Wheaton Aston. It was the happiest of all sights as we approached – another boat emerging so we didn't have to work the top gates.

We had business here as well – filling up the water tank and then, just through the bridge which the sharp-eyed will spot in the photo, filling up the diesel tank at Turner's, who believe they sell the cheapest fuel of anywhere on the network. They're probably right.

After that there was not much to do on this leg, except watch the clouds getting cloudier and the greyness getting greyer, and the cars rushing somewhere as we crossed the aqueduct over the M5, Watling Street. Not many boats to avoid in the narrow bits or under the bridges. I did spot three Tolkien-named boats, but they were already on my list. And then I saw something to make up for having missed snapping the dahlias the other day.

My best beloved assures me they were marigolds, not dahlias, but I just thought they were a bright and cheerful interjection. Meanwhile she also asked me to capture (not literally, you understand) this goose who clearly had nearly given up.

One eye, pointing backwards but looking sideways, making sure I wasn't a threat. One body that looks as though it could have succeeded at the contortionist world championships. And all supported on one leg. Why do they do that?

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Single track with passing places

We want to be in Audlem by Sunday evening, and the CanaPlan website says that means between 3 and 4 hours travelling a day. We were therefore prepared for a bit of a hard grind, but today's cruising has been delightful. We didn't get up early, but that was just as well, as we were passed in both directions by a stream of boats – mostly a mixture of hirers and old working boats. By the time we were on the move, it was a real pleasure to be out and about.

To get to Autherley Junction we had to pass through a very narrow mile, reminiscent of those more remote roads in Scotland or the Lake District.


I still remember the trepidation with which we first traversed this section, five years ago. Now we're pretty blasé! But still glad of the occasional passing paces, even if they weren't needed this time.

We reached Autherley Junction in a couple of hours, turned neatly around its acute angle and moved from the Staffs and Worcs canal to the Shropshire Union.

The Shroppie itself has a couple of "single-track" sections in this stretch, but the main challenges of that sort lie further north. We tied up in the sunshine just south of Brewood at one of our favourite stopping places.

In all it had taken 3½ hours, which was good going, and quicker than CanalPlan had estimated. By time the ensuing sit-down had turned into something a bit longer, the clear skies meant a chill was creeping into the air. So it was time for a cuppa, with a piece of toast and honey. Well, all work and no play…

Monday 25 September 2017


As we came up the first lock of the day, two moored boaters about 50 yards ahead saw us coming and scrambled. The second of the two seemed to take longer to sort out his ropes, but off he went just as we were opening the top gate.  Grrr!

We caught him up at the first lock in Penkridge – presumably his mate was in transit. It appeared we would be in for quite a wait, so instead we tied up and walked down into the town. We always walk back past the old prison, and on this occasion (a) we had an idea for a couple of deserving occupants, and (b) my best beloved was reminded that she's never done a prison visit in her life (like most people, probably).

Guess what else is in the middle of Penkridge!

Last night we watched a programme in which various participants were so horrified by the effects of diet and lifestyle on their bodies that they were shocked into some radical beneficial changes. It was very impressive – but Jasper's was calling! The first part of our purchase was mostly OK – two ham salad granary rolls (though the presenters would have suggested an alternative to the ham, and Dr Atkins might have said something about the bread). They were delicious. So was the second part of our purchase, but in this case the presenters would have definitely raised some corporate eyebrows. Two buns, no doubt containing enormous amounts of all the wrong things, went extremely well with a cuppa when we finally moored up at Calf Heath.

The dastardly deed was done, unrepentedly. It probably wasn't quite bad enough to get us incarcerated back in Penkridge for the night.

Sunday 24 September 2017


But no picture. I'd forgotten the wonderful garden we pass coming down towards Acton Trussell, though my best beloved hadn't. As we cruised by the riot of autumn glory I thought – that would make a nice one for the blog. However, all thoughts of the photo were immediately obliterated by the sight of a Countrywide Cruisers hirer coming at top speed round the corner.

Danger averted, I tried to pull in, to walk back along the towpath for a piccy, but it was too shallow to get near the bank. We were grounded and had to carefully manoeuvre off again. By the time we were at a point where I could have got us in safely, it would have been a quarter-mile hike back to the garden, and I was no longer in the mood.

Now you know I make enormous sacrifices for this blog, to satisfy the extraordinary demands of its discerning readership, but on this occasion I'm afraid I just have to present my apologies!

Saturday 23 September 2017

Not Goldberry

As we started out towards Great Haywood Junction this morning, I thought for a moment I had an addition to my list of Tolkien-themed boat names.

River Daughter reminded me immediately of Goldberry – Tom Bombadil's companion. Alas, it was not to be. Later research showed that she was known as "River-woman's daughter". Goldberry has her own honourable entry in the list, but no additional alias, I'm afraid.

After picking up water and getting a pump-out we came down through Tixall Wide,

impressed as ever by this tribute to the family through whose land the canal passed, and of whose estate the only remaining visible relic is the gatehouse (still hireable, apparently, for functions).

Speaking of relics, the Wide was playing host to a rather nice wooden launch,

not that the white satellite dish did a great deal for its lines. Also out and about (and not at all relic-like) was the Stafford Boating Club.

They were on their annual mystery cruise. It would be more of a mystery, said one member, if they didn't cruise to the same place every year!

We left them enjoying themselves, though it seemed the gazebos might be needed more as protection from the rain than from the sun. But we did find ourselves in some afternoon shine as we tied up at Radford Bank, opposite a tidy garden.

Tixall Wide might be Goldberry country, but Radford Bank certainly is not, with the A34 rushing over the bridge a few yards away. However, it's very convenient for a quick walk down to the local Aldi.

Friday 22 September 2017


I'm not sure we've ever done a shorter distance from one mooring to the next, except when we've tootled round to Tixall Wide from the marina for the night – perhaps not even then. We needed to do some stuff in Great Haywood but didn't want to have to go back to our own marina berth, so we came up Haywood Lock and found a good space in the sun between the lock and the junction.

It was all about various jobs – pick up a package from the Post Office, get some 2032 batteries for the kitchen scales and some more kindling. Drying clothes – washing them is easy courtesy of our little Candy, but drying them isn't straightforward in this weather. And then, when I was checking some storage, I noticed we'd shipped an inch of water in the chain locker at the front, what with all the rain. So I wanted to clear that out and dry it, which meant leaving things open and therefore not unattended.

In the end, I got the package and the batteries from the Post Office, and the kindling from the farm shop, while my best beloved stayed on sentry duty. Then she put the washed clothes in the shopping trolley and pulled it down to the marina's laundry room to put through the dryer, while I was extremely busy doing things on Erin Mae. Unfortunately, there was a queue of people for the dryer, so she came back with the washing still damp. That merited a restorative cuppa, while I rigged one of our drying frames and pegged out the wet stuff. Who knows what an evening of the Squirrel pumping out dry heat will do?

Juggling, as everybody knows, is an extremely demanding and clever activity.

Thursday 21 September 2017


They knew what was promised!

So did we, so we left our overnight mooring early, travelled 3½ miles to a spot overlooking Shugborough, and tied up ready for a drowning.

In the event, we got a bit of rain for a short while, a spattering hardly worthy of the name for a bit longer, and have spent the rest of the afternoon drowsily wondering what all the fuss was about. Meanwhile, one of the coal boats came by, so I laid in three bags of SuperThem. Now that will be important!

Wednesday 20 September 2017


Last night's food at the Mucky Duck was carefully delivered by our attentive teenage waiter, who also went on little errands for us: what was the nature of the Thursday night folk sessions? please could we have more custard with our sticky toffee pudding; please could we have some spoons to eat the pudding with.

The two pies (for £15) were, I suppose, typical pub food. Quite tasty (we cheerfully cleared our plates), rather long on carbohydrate but rather short on protein. When you added in the pudding, we ate more simple carbohydrate in an hour that we would normally imbibe in a week! But if you're going out for a meal, you've got to at least consider having a pudding. It wasn't home-made (neither were the pies) but it wasn't bad.

Today's target was to replenish the larder in Rugeley, so we'd become comestibly self-sufficient once more. That was accomplished, courtesy of Morrisons and the fruit & veg shop opposite, but we decided not to remain on the very convenient visitor mooring in the middle of town. We'd never stayed overnight by the aqueduct where the T&M crosses the River Trent, and thought we would do so. Tomorrow is threatening lots of rain, so if we hole up here it should be more pleasant than in town.

At least, so we thought until our mooring neighbour came to warn us that this spot is sometimes prone to teenagers out for a laugh coming and jumping on and off the gunnel. Hopefully the promised rain will keep them away. If not, it transpires that our neighbour is in the process of making a claymore – a traditional two-handed Scottish sword. If he gets that out on the towpath, I doubt our little boating community will have any trouble!

Though I don't think I should really approve.

Tuesday 19 September 2017


We don't eat out a lot – it seems to cost quite a bit to get something better than what we do at home, even on Erin Mae. This has the benefit that, when we do go out, it feels a bit more special (though I feel a bit of a rat writing that – I'm sure my best beloved would like to go out more often!).

On the other hand, when the larder runs bare of the meaty essentials, there's a decision to be made. We could make do, and make something tasty out of veggies, supplemented with a tin of this or that. We could tie up temporarily at a point where it's a 300 yard stroll down to a small Co-op. Or we could decide to eat at the Mucky Duck (The Swan at Fradley). Guess which won!

Since it wasn't very far from our overnight mooring, near King's Orchard Marina, to Fradley, we took it nice and gently, enjoying the warmth of a very pleasant autumn day, and the sights along the way.

Only an hour and a half of engine time – something of a record. We tied up in the same spot we'd moored at on the way down. It was a change to have lunch sitting down instead of on the move.

We were about to go for a walk to check out the pub for tonight, when along came Helen and Andy Tidy (aka Captain Ahab) in NB Wand'ring Bark, with the Jam Butty behind. That was the chance for a short chat, and a convenient purchase of some of their Wildside produce – it makes excellent Christmas presents!

Finally we did go for our walk, checking out The Swan, and then sauntering through the woodland trails behind the Fradley locks.

Tonight is pie night at The Swan – with a variety on offer at two for £15. Now that's something we don't often do. If it's remarkably good, or remarkably bad, I'll tell you tomorrow.

Monday 18 September 2017


This is the first time we've been using the new tachometer in the wild, and getting used to it is an interesting experience.

It's nice that the engine hours counter works – it was a classic complaint about the old model that it failed fairly quickly. Of course, it's early days…! It's a little different in that the calibrations correspond to 100 rpm – on the old one they corresponded to 200 rpm, so I sometimes have to think twice.

But the main difference is that I found, during the installation process, that the old one had clearly been calibrated wrong, so that it significantly under-read the engine speed. I'm now getting used to a new set of "standard" readings for different situations. Engine speed for going past moored boats is now showing as 1000 rpm, whereas it used to be about 800. That takes some acclimatisation, though my ears tell me everything is fine. Normal cruising speed is now nearer 1500 than 1200, and top canal speed on a stretch where you can do it is up around 1700 rpm.

You get used to this, and you keep listening and you keep an eye on other things, like whether you're producing a wash. But in between times, especially if (a) there's nothing riveting to look at, and (b) you have a mind that works like mine, you start calculating how many amps the alternators are putting into the batteries, given these revised engine speeds. Since the time when I began to think seriously about Erin Mae's electrics, I've had a chart of alternator speed versus current imprinted in some part of my brain, ready to be called up and interrogated. So now I have fun thinking about how many electrons are getting stored away, under the new regime. It's a very satisfying procedure – not just the maths but the fact that they're doing much better than I used to think they were. Apologies to those readers who either don't have a clue what I'm talking about, or think it just shows what a very sad case I am.

There are times when speed is no mere theoretical consideration. As we left our Fazeley mooring this morning, I decided to reverse the couple of hundred yards to the bridge at the junction. I saw a boat coming about a quarter of a mile away, but thought I'd have plenty of time to get to the junction without interfering with his progress. How wrong I was! In the first place, he was coming a lot quicker than it had seemed, and didn't appear inclined to slow down for moored boats. In the second place, the shallowness of the canal (I think) kept causing Erin Mae to get off line, far more than she normally does when reversing. So I had to make regular corrections, for which you have to go briefly into forward gear, which slows you down. After about 50 yards he'd caught me up and decided he didn't want to wait. He rammed Erin Mae's bows to push them out of his way, which left me with no choice but to pull across and let him by. He obviously felt offended by what I was trying to do and asked me a few rhetorical questions as he came by. I chose to apply the principle of "a soft answer turns away wrath" and said I was saying nothing (for the philosophers among you, that's a self-stultifying statement!). So, no harm done, but I must confess some relief when he went the other way from ourselves at the junction!

It's one of those occasions when you're not sure about the effect of having a BCF sticker in Erin Mae's window!

Sunday 17 September 2017


My best beloved and I like listening to music. Live music is great, but usually it's something played through speakers, at home, in the car, on the boat. Not all the time, but often enough to miss it when it's not available. Erin Mae came with a Samsung "home theatre" player, which was supposed to do FM radio and CD/DVDs, outputting visuals to the TV, and sound to a 5+1 speaker system. However, it was a casualty of the "Twelvoltification" process I engaged in last year, since it ran off mains voltage, and used a lot of electrons. It would mostly suit someone connected permanently to a landline.

Playing music through a laptop's speakers is not a very thrilling experience. Earlier this year I found a solution for the boat which has worked very well.

First up was a small amplifier, hung on the panel to the left of the TV. Mass produced in China, cheap (and therefore rather worrying), and able to run off a 12 volt supply. For those who like such info, it's a 20+20 watt Class-T design, which I researched since I'd never heard of it. I won't go into that here (!) but I found it very interesting to update my technical knowledge of amplifiers. I bit the bullet, disconnected Erin Mae's principal stereo speakers from the Samsung unit, and connected them to the new amplifier. The result, naturally enough, is not the best Hi-Fi in the world, but to our ageing ears the sound is pretty impressive.

Next I wanted to run it all wirelessly, and I bought an AudioCast device. It's the little round thing in the photo just below the amplifier, and normally it sits out of sight behind a panel. It runs off USB voltage, connects to the amplifier via a short lead, and to Erin Mae's wiFi  network. It was a doddle to set up.

I tested it all as we came down to Fazeley during the week, and it works a treat. I streamed some folk music from Spotify to my laptop, and sent it wirelessly via the AudioCast device to the new amp / speaker setup. Just as pleasing as the sound was my audit of how many electrons it was all using. An hour or two made not a dent in my SmartGauge readings. So we have music on tap, and the next thing will be to monitor what sort of a dent in my mobile broadband allowance streaming music from Spotify will make. Since we've got a good deal from Three at the moment, I doubt I'll have to worry.

So finally we turn to live music. Using the computer application MuseScore, I'd recently transcribed some folk tunes I'd come across via Spotify – mostly some of Phil Cunningham's compositions. We're at a BCF get-together at Fazeley for the weekend, and as the rain fell on Saturday afternoon a number of us who had instruments gathered round my laptop to play the tunes. Accordion, a couple of recorders, penny whistle, cello and a fiddle. It was great fun! The music was mostly new to everybody except myself, and all trying to sightread from a laptop screen presents some challenges, but we had a ball!

However, the musical highlight came in the evening when Halfie entertained us with the National Anthem and a couple of Christmas carols. Nothing unusual in that, you might think – but he was whistling the tune while simultaneously humming a bass accompaniment. I don't know anybody else who can do that!

Friday 15 September 2017


We've used Three's mobile broadband very successfully since we bought Erin Mae, together with a mobile broadband router from ZoomTel.

This creates a WiFi hotspot for connecting computers, phone, iPad, etc, and links to the internet via a dongle which can also be connected directly to the computer if need be.

It's the one on the right, a Huawei E3256. Brilliant little 3G device, with a folding USB plug so you don't need a cap, among other advantages. Normally it nestles in the boat licence holder in Erin Mae's window, attached by a cable to the Zoom.

Until a few weeks ago, when it accidentally got washed along with a pair of shorts. Condition was terminal, I'm afraid. The dongle was an ex-dongle. The SIM card inside, however (and amazingly), survived the wet, warm, detergent-laden washing cycle – I just didn't have a working device to use it with. So I checked on the Three website, saw which dongle they are currently selling for mobile broadband users, and found one on eBay – a ZTE MF730F, pictured on the left. Supposed to be slightly better technology than the Huawei but, annoyingly, with a cap and a fixed USB plug. It seems nobody is making rotating plugs any more.

Well, the ZTE worked fine when connected directly to my computer, but the Zoom went into a sulk and completely refused to talk to it. Unfortunately we didn't discover this until we were back on Erin Mae last weekend. The immediate result was that my best beloved was dropped into an internet-free existence – her devices all connect via the Zoom. I checked ZoomTel's website, and found that this particular ZTE is not listed among the zillion that are supported, and their support department confirmed that, if it's not on the list, there's no way to get it working.

So it was back onto eBay and, wonder of wonders, there was a second-hand E3256 going for £7, including postage. It certainly wasn't there when I first checked some weeks ago. So we got it sent to some friends at Fazeley, where we are holed up for the weekend. It arrived yesterday, I inserted the SIM card, connected it to the Zoom, and my best beloved's enforced fast has come to an end.

I'll just have to be extra careful the next time we've been out and about and I want to wash my trousers. And anyone want a ZTE MF730F, going cheap?

Thursday 14 September 2017

Bridge holes

Calculate the overall distance you travelled (11.2 miles today). Now calculate how much of that was in bridge holes – 34 bridges x a guestimated average bridge hole width of 10 yards (to be generous, I think) = 340 yards. If my maths is correct, the bridge holes comprise 0.017248377 (340/1760/11.2) of the overall distance. In other words, we spent about 1.7% of today's cruising under bridges.

Now, how many boats did we encounter coming the other way? I confess I did not count them at the time, but I'm sure there weren't more than 20 (being generous again). But 3 of those were in difficult encounters at bridges. That's 15% !

You might argue that I haven't allowed for the length of the boats – making a notional, virtual bridge width considerably larger. But I counter than the three bridges were also on blind corners (any boater knows that it's always on a blind corner bridge that you encounter someone coming the other way). These two factors perhaps cancel out.

So – nominal chance of encountering a boat under these conditions – 1.7%. Today's actual experience of encountering such a boat – 15%. A small sample, I know, with little statistical validity – but why does it always happen this way!

Apart from that, we had a good run from Fradley to Fazeley. More of the sunshine and cloud recipe. When the sun was out the Coventry Canal was pretty,

graced with the occasional early 19th century cottages,

while the sky offered its own drama.

At Fazeley junction we turned right under the bridge (no incoming this time), and have moored up ready for the BCF weekend, behind Peter and Fran's NB Sonflower, and with David and Mary's NB Kew in the background.

Since I took that photo, others have also arrived. Promises to be a good weekend.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

After the storm

Storm Aileen left us unscathed. We were moored towards the southern edge of the amber warning area, and the winds were less strong than a little further north. Whatever we had, I slept through it. This morning we needed a quick trip to Rugeley's excellent fruit and veg shop before getting under way in the sun – that was not to last. Sunshine and showers was what they promised, and sunshine and showers was what we got, some of them heavy.

There was more traffic on the move than we'd expected, and we had an interesting moment under a bridge on a blind corner when the canal was so shallow that both Erin Mae and the boat coming the other way found it hard to stop in time, and even harder to manoeuvre back into position afterwards. You can never get a photo of situations like that, because you're so busy avoiding calamity.

At Wood End lock we found ourselves in a queue of four boats. It was drizzling, so we thought about tying up for some lunch. But we thought again, because we were bound to still be in a queue when we were ready to move again, so we just waited our turn and it wasn't long before the sun came out again. Then it was down the lock and round the corner to Fradley junction, followed by others who'd been also been queuing.

Fradley's helpful volunteers were helpfully volunteering, as usual.

Fradley itself wasn't exactly buzzing – blame it on the weather.

We turned right through the little swing bridge and, by the time we'd filled the water tank, decided we'd come far enough for the day. We found a spot at the end of the visitor moorings.

One of my mooring hooks is squeaking on the armco, so I shall sort it in a minute.

And then, I think, I'll light a fire.