Monday 30th August to Sunday 5th September 2010.
Moving on a Bank Holiday? We must be mad.
Our arrival at Marple coincided with the appearance of number one son from the sunny south coast.
A quick sleep and we shall be at that water point before the holiday makers are out of bed and thinking of dashing to the services.
Were off on a three hour crawl to Bugsworth Basin where well be thoroughly spoiled with wall to wall sunshine, barbequed dinners and fried breakfasts.
Of course I dont have to steer when Ive got a fresh crew but all eyes are focussed on that bend ahead where there are hazards for the unwary, like overgrown vegetation and fast moving trip-boats that come out of nowhere and slow for no-one.
Wednesday was another smashing day. The weather was top notch, the Bugsworth moorings first class and the entertainment consisted of hammering the radio controlled boat up and down the old loading wharfs much to the annoyance of a dog that ran after it barking uncontrollably.
The old lady owner was as amused as us until her dog refused to stop barking and I think she felt a little embarrassed having to drag him away from the water’s edge.
I volunteered for the obligatory walk but due to time restraints we only managed the basin periphery.
What a lovely place this is, someone has put in a lot of work to restore the stonework and erect interpretation boards and plaques. Well done to the volunteers of IWPS who have recognised the value of restoring the site for heritage sake and for the benefit of visitors like us.
The afternoon cruise brought us to the outskirts of Marple, to one of those very desirable moorings overlooking the valley where everybody else seems to get there first.
But not this time.
With the sun still burning hot on our heads we broke out the barby and consumed beer and cinders until the rabbits appeared on the hillside to chase the ever lengthening shadows.
Owls of every kind hooted and screeched in the tree outside as we gently laid our red faces on our pillows on this last night of the holiday.
We stopped a few times on the way to Gurnett Aqueduct, not intentionally, and mostly on mud or gravel three feet away from the canal bank. Our last stop was on the bendy bit next to the weir where a right handed banana boat would have been the ticket but after fiddling with go-cart tyres we managed to stop the boat scraping itself to bits on the bank side.
Taking a walk down to the village we pondered the Freemasons plaque on Mr Bennetts old house, dated 1802, many years after both he and his apprentice Brindley had passed on.
A hundred yards away the aqueduct was found to be plastered with marks made by the other kind of mason.
Back at the boat I did a search on Gurnett and found not only an interesting article on Abraham Bennett and his involvement in the building of a paper mill but also came up with Caxtons Blog entitled Gurnet by Golly dated December 2009.
Friday 3rd September
I trust you all have your Red Ensigns flying today. Tis Merchant Navy Day once again and the flag locker has been prised open to reveal Balmahas red duster borrowed from a ship of similar name. While today we think of those who lost their lives on merchant ships during WW1 and 2, it will be Sunday for the annual service of remembrance.
With cold evenings looming just ahead and coal reserves low we bought a couple of bags from Brian and Ann-Maries coal boat Alton. Three abreast on a curved canal in the dark under trees with just enough room for one boat to squeeze past wasnt giving me peace of mind so we didnt hang around for diesel.
Buying coal in quantity is a sure way to prolong the warm spell so two bags should give me enough sunshine to finish the outside varnishing. You can be sure the weather will change early next week.
Our day ended opposite Mow Cop and what a lovely evening it was apart from being the wrong side of a tall hedge which didnt do anything for the solar panel.
It looked like being another glorious day so the stern deck got a seeing-to. I mistakenly whacked veg oil on it once to make it waterproof but I learnt a lesson when it rained and I couldnt stand up. This time it will be teak-oil on the topside and edges.
Sunday we moved down to the end of the Macc at Red Bull in preparation for an early start into Harecastle tunnel.
Spent a pleasant half hour at the water point near the stop lock with John from GWV Boat Building, talking boats as you do. Turns out he built Grumpy Gits boat that we saw in Liverpool a few weeks ago.
Johns dog is something else, it found an old chimney in the undergrowth and wouldnt let it go. He almost picked it up with front paws and ran with it, so keen was he to have it but like most things on the towpath it finished up at the bottom of the canal.
The weather is starting to turn, as predicted. If it rains tomorrow then were stopping inside the tunnel at the layby. No sense in getting wet unnecessarily.
Been playing around with ship pictures on my website, thanks to Fred Coppenhall of Dutton Locks and book writing fame. He passed me some wonderful B&W oldies of steam tugs and small ships that plied their trade on the rivers Mersey and Weaver and grey funnel ships from his days in the RN.
I could happily spend hours on the subject but there are obstacles to a blokes happiness, V and 3G.