Monday 6th to Monday 13th September 2010.

Leaving our moorings on Monday at Red Bull we caught the 9.30 convoy through Harecastle Tunnel. First in the queue is a change for us and we shot out the other side after 32 minutes, our fastest so far. Might have improved on that if the doors had been opened a minute earlier to save having to slow down.
harecastle tunnel

I see they still haven’t found the source of the curry powder that turns the water a light shade of brown.

Stoke came and went without incident and my thanks go to a Blog reader on a hire boat (Privateer?) who pushed Balmaha away from a concrete projection as I scraped alongside to pick up V after a lock.
I’m so glad they left some of the bottle kilns to remind us what made Stoke famous. I wonder if the new building on the left will survive as long as the chimneys.
bottle ovens

Could have made Stone by nightfall but decided to stay outside the town limits to allow the Heartwood boat gathering to disperse. We stopped at Barlaston when the rain clouds bubbled up from the west and you could have heard us chuckling in the warm and dry as the heavens opened an hour later.

Tuesday was good for parking, we found plenty of space for our sewer tube opposite Roger Fuller’s yard. Most of my needs in town were satisfied in the High Street – Baileys, banks and brunch but V didn’t do so well in the Co-op where many of the shelves were empty.

We umm’d and aahh’d about leaving town the same day and after assuring ourselves we were on a good weather roll we set off under sunny skies.

Just managed to get to that pub on the right, opposite that restaurant on the left, under the road to the west, when the clouds popped up and burst over us. From there-on it was wet and slippery all the way to bridge 85 where we grabbed the first bit of empty piling and, would you believe it, the moment we stopped the engine the sun came out. Typical.

Wednesday was a decent day for sunshine but talk about Piccadilly Circus, the whole world was out for a cruise, not that many got a lot of travelling done, we counted six boats at one lock below Great Haywood with one in the chamber and another one arriving to replace him in the queue.

Spotted an adorable caravan this morning, beautiful outside and I’ll bet it’s immaculate inside too.
caravan

Very nearly bought something from the boat craft shop, a little paraffin lamp just like the ones we had when we were kids. But I know what would happen, the first heave to one side from a passing boat would send it to the deck and smash the frosted glass thingy.
craftshop

You know what it’s like after a long day, mooring spaces become very tempting but so does covering the miles to make the following day easier.
Let’s get Fradley done while it’s quiet, said V, so a long 7 hours turned into an even longer 8.

There’s no sneaking through Fradley whatever the time of day so it was no surprise to see Stelle from nb.Belle walking the dog.
Belle

I couldn’t raise Chris from his slumbers as we passed Belle but we did manage to exchange How-Are-Yous with nb.Digitalis on the way through. It looked to me like they had a bottle open but they were safe – we couldn’t stop.

Thursday was an easier day, a mile or so further on and we were tied up in Alrewas. This is the first time we’ve found a space at Alrewas, it pays to get there mid morning. The number 813 bus (a new service) from the George & Dragon whisked us away to the National Memorial Arboretum.
We made our way straight to the area set aside for the Real Navy and then did the Royal Navy before calling on the flyers, the Army and the Poles.
MN memorial

NMA1

NMA2

Here’s one for my mate Rip in Christchurch, he served on minesweepers BYMS-2181 and MMS-217 and would love to hear from his 1940’s shipmates.
BYMS

Possibly the saddest memorial was labelled Shot at Dawn. It’s too awful to describe.

Back at base we discovered we’d shared the bus with bloggers Epiphany and Petroc without knowing it.

Talking of blogs, a reader chap on Still Dreaming called to us across the canal as we tick-over’d through town and Mary from Arrina stopped to say hello, which was nice. We also bumped into Diesel-in-a-can from nb.Mayflower and made a note to call him when we’re next moored near a convenient road.

This was certainly a day for meeting people because the evening brought RBOA’s Beryl on Wasp, looking for a place to stop after a very long journey from the IWA National.

Friday brought us to the Water Meadows at Branston. Again, it pays to moor up early because by tea-time the bank was full of boats and still they kept coming, rope in hand looking for a place to spend the night.

Nothing much has changed on the T&M, it’s the same narrow, shallow water with the same hire boats outnumbering private boats ten to one.

And it’s only a matter of time before you get bumped. For us it was early in the morning, down to inexperience as usual, it got V out of bed. My offer to steer them out of trouble was accepted but I confess I had selfish motives, I didn’t want any more hand and footprints up the cabin sides.

Stopping along here has given me another idea for an invention. Whilst I applaud BW’s attempts to repair the bank edges with sand bags and back fill with gravel, I can’t say I like the decision to leave the collapsed stone edging blocks in the canal. My invention is a simple device that locates a submerged stone block and lifts it up and onto the towpath where it serves as a cyclist deterrent.

I can immediately see one flaw in this idea, the stone block then serves as a stool for an angler.
Doohhh, back to the drawing board.

If you want to meet people then the T&M is the place to be. Today was the turn of nb.Hillhouse, last seen at Harbro in the winter months, when we were frozen in. They’re off south for the winter, very wise.

Saturday is messing about day, this time it’s all about aerials brought over by Graham (G8LUV). Along with a VHF mag-mount twig, he brought magazines and some excellent books on MI9, the Lancaster bomber and WW2 code makers. He’s a good lad.
M&G

Talking of good lads, I see Gypsy Rover is blogging under its new owners Ray and Diane. Ray is out and about getting his sea legs on his own while Diane holds the fort back home so we wish him well with settling in and look forward to meeting up again in 2011.

For those of you who know nb.Clarence there will be a new blog from Derek and Sheila starting any day now.

It’s that time of year for collecting conkers, they only last a year if you use them as we do for scaring off the spiders. I string a few together and hang them where the little beasties pop out at night although I don’t know what I’ll do for the one in the bathroom cabinet, he seems reluctant to give up his den.

Sunday we had a lovely surprise when Ter and Claire called in to see us. I was almost tempted when he told me how things were developing in Tribal Wars but I remembered how things went last time with the commitment and the pressure to raid other villages before they raided you. No, I think I’ll leave all that to others.

Monday was going to be a sit-tight-day at Branston but the forecast said it was cruising weather so we slipped our moorings and made it to a quiet spot between Stenson and Swarkestone. Quiet means fewer walkers not fewer boaters, there’s billions of those, this being the good old Trent & Mersey.

We must have had visitors last night, he or she left a calling card next to the stern rope. And before you ask, it’s the brown thing he left not the 50 pence piece.
droppings

Funny what you can find when you’re waiting at locks. This mile post was the first of the new style placed by the Trent & Mersey Canal Society in 1979. It was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Sanders of Clayton Line Ltd. and unveiled by Sir Frank Price of BWB.
mile post

Marvellous!!

All the time I was taking pictures V was struggling with the paddles on the bottom gates and heaving those massive gates after the boats in front of us had left.
What can I say?
Sorreeeee.

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