Canal Adventures

Friday March 13th saw Roger and I leave home to begin our longer term adventure on Eunoia. We arrived and packed all of stuff that we thought might be necessary for a longer trip and then left the marina.We turned right onto the Trent and Mersey and headed into Willington for the night. We also took the opportunity to do the first of many moves of the car so that we would have it conveniently located at a railway station when we needed it. Saturday saw us head to Arewas just in time for me to visit my favourite canal side butchers and for Roger to settle down to enjoy the 6 nations. Sunday brought us to bits of the Trent and Mersey that we hadn’t travelled previously. We went through some very narrow bits at Armitage that literally were hacked out of the rock. We were glad not to be travelling this way during a busier part of the season. We stopped at Rugeley – a town with two railway stations which was the main attraction.

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On Monday we took trains back to Willington to collect the car again in order to go to Derby to collect Jack from the station. Many hours later we had Jack, and all his belongings (including a trombone) stashed in Eunoia ready to go and then headed off to Hayward Lock, ready for our left turn onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. This was a beautiful canal, very rural and we headed south towards Autheley where we joined the Shropshire Union Canal. We travelled through the Autheley junction lock, which had a fall of about 6″ – definitely the smallest fall in a lock we’ve encountered so far.

Our next stop was Brewood – pronounced Brood, which was a lovely stop. A beautiful little town with lovely shops, another fantastic butchers and historic buildings. We stopped at Gnosall Heath where we met up with Cheryl and Tony for a lovely lunch in the pub Very relaxed lunch before heading down to Goldstone Wharf ahead of a day of locks.

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On Friday 20th March we travelled 25 locks through Tyler Locks, Adderley Locks and Audlem Locks. We had to fill most of them before we could travel down, but were very proud to have got through all of them on one day. I was really grateful for Jack being with us for that bit, it would have been really hard work without him.

Saturday saw us travelling over the aqueduct into Nantwich in time for Roger to watch the finale of the 6 nations, for Jack to go and collect the car (he has a young persons rail card!) and for me to stroll around the shops and collect some provisions. Beautiful town with friendly people and lovely buildings. I particularly liked the walk into town from the marina, going past the Alms houses and the old Police houses.

Sunday was a no travelling day as we spent it with the lovely Emery’s firstly at their church and then at their house for a lovely lunch.

With the car with us, on Monday we were able to go and collect Polly from Crewe and do a bit of bigger shopping. Once Polly was with us, having packed much lighter, we were able to set off towards Chester. North of Nantwich the Shropshire Union canal changes from narrow to wide and you get to use the huge wide locks. They are much more dangerous as a narrow boat gets thrown around in them but are manageable with care. We went through the interesting Bunbury staircase. Two locks with no pound between them. Required a bit of thought but we got safely through with a bit of help from the volunteer lock keeper who was just checking that everything was working properly. Would have been an even more pleasant morning if it hadn’t rained – but the smiles stayed and the waterproofs worked well.

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We stopped at a pub for lunch with friends, but unfortunately chose the one pub on the cut that was closed for refurbishment! Fortunately Jane was able to take all of us in her car to another pub where we had a lovely meal. After lunch we got back to the boat with the bonus of having collected the car and cruised to Egg Bridge where we met Adrian and Lisa with whom we had a lovely evening. The next day we completed our cruise to Chester with Adrian’s help. We then found the mooring of my dreams, right outside of a new huge Waitrose. Fantastic facilities together with a paper, hot drink and clean loos. Wonderful.

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Thursday saw us have a nice potter around Chester and then turn the boat around to go to Tattenhall marina as we were returning home for the weekend.  When the boat was safely moored off we went back home leaving Polly for her onward adventure. What a great couple of weeks, cold but mostly dry and fine. We met some of our lovely friends and relatives whom we’d not seen for ages and spent time as a whole family without much internet or telly!!IMG_1955

A fantastic weekend and then back to the boat on Monday 30th together with Snowy, our elderly, but gorgeous cat. This was always going to be interesting, but he survived the journey there, his first night and his first day of travelling, including 5 locks. He seems to have settled and doesn’t look too anxious now. Not sure that waiting until your cat is 19 to try him out of a new adventure is the best idea, but all well so far. I’m sure he’ll feature in future blogs!

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Frisky at 50!

If I had to reach 50 years of age then I was going to have fun doing so and booked two cottages at Langton Matravers, Isle of Purbeck so that I could share the occasions with some special friends.

IMG_0019We headed to the Kings Arms, the local pub and thanks to the fine waiter Chris were able to enjoy a splendid meal prior to heading back to the cottages for cake, drink and games. Over the course of the time together we played variations of a game where you had to sing part of a song and the rest of your team had to guess the song. Repeated with words, humming and whistling with varying degrees of success. Clearly the girls won the vast majority of the games due to our higher level of skill!!

IMG_0027 IMG_0025Thanks for the lovely cakes that were provided and helped to keep us going, just in ca1797948_10206431551815902_7042811285211614337_nse we got hungry.

We attempted one major walk to Dancers Ledge and then to the lighthouse alone the coast path. It was slightly damp under foot, but I really didn’t see the footpath closed sign by a slight landslip until it appeared in Facebook a couple of days later, but we all made it safely down, despite a few worried faces! As the walk progressed there were a few slips and slides and one of us managed actual falls and a bit of muddiness. Apparently when you get to 50, you don’t fall over anymore , you have a fall!

We split up during the walk as the South West Coast Path proved too slippy and treacherous for some, so when we reached the light house, the more intrepid walkers rejoined the others in order to slide back to the cottages.

Other activities partaken included pool with both a doubles and singles competitions. Special mention should go to Chris who managed the fastest pot of the black, but unfortunately not before the other balls had been posted. The other misfortune was that he was standing in for the final as John has had to leave. His partner Jackie wasn’t impressed!

We also managed a visit to the wonderful Corfe Castle and the opportunity to abseil a teddy from the top to the bottom, a lovely walk along the Purbeck ridge which was bracing and dry, swimming, including an individual medley try out and lots of laughter. We visited Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, found a fantastic Fair Trade shop in Swanage where I purchased some fantastic trousers, completed the Dancers Edge walk by walking from Durleston to the lighthouse and back, and played bar billiards, darts, table tennis, table football and tennis. A fantastic time.

Thank you to my lovely friends for the fun, laughter and silliness. A birthday to remember.

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