Monday 14th to Monday 21st Feb. 2011

The mind has gone blank, thankfully it’s nothing to do with getting old, I’ve always been this way, so no need to bother the doctor. I just can’t place Bridges 15 to 16 on the Trent & Mersey Canal, our moorings at the beginning of the week.
Anyhow, we started out from there and popped in to Mercia Marina for a couple of reasons, firstly to be nosey because it’s new to us and secondly to check out the chandlers.

What a place!! Hidden behind an earth embankment it looks nothing from the canal but once through that bridge-tunnel thing under the road it’s massive and stacked full of boats.
I fancy this Midland Chandlers has better stock than the Braunston shop and the mooring is a whole lot friendlier, with space to stick a 72footer in comfort.

Our last stop of the day was going to be Willington for the shops and post office until one of the ‘locals’ (Best O’ Mates) recommended the gravel pits on the edge of town.
Graham and Jennifer know this bit of canal very well, having been stuck here during the last 2010 ice-age, thanks to global warming.
Best O Mates

I wasn’t quick enough to get across to the services when G&J moved off before someone else took their place so decided to skip it and set off to find the pits. Hadn’t gone far before we were hailed by Life-After-Work going t’other way. They mentioned our Blog so I scanned the list to see if they kept one but without success. There are so many things you’d like to ask as you pass but you only get a couple of seconds before your engine kills any chance of conversation and the opportunity has gone.

We made it to the gravel pits and only just in time because the heavens opened and dumped a week’s worth on us before the afternoon was through.

Tuesday morning started fine but it went downhill after elevenses. Shobnall is another of those places we’ve never stopped so I did a tour of the chandlery and bought a pot of blue paint. Yes I know we are green, it’s an experiment. Our green has faded dark and a touch of black in the green paint didn’t improve things. Blue seems to do the trick so I’m gingerly adding blue to green in the hope of making a paint match.
All I need now is a couple of days of sunshine, yes I can dream.

Smoking chimneys and plenty of spaces between boats looked inviting so we called it a day at Branston’s water meadows, minutes before the clouds burst.

I don’t know if it’s the same with you but I love lying in bed listening to the rain hammering on the roof, it’s comforting. The only thing that spoils it is remembering you left your boots outside the back door.

Despite the icy conditions our neighbours were up with the sparrows and by the time we’d finished breakfast there were a handful of boats between us and the next lock.
There are few pleasures that beat being first in the line and I’m afraid I was Mr. Grumpy until I’d overtaken the boat ahead of us.
Don’t get the wrong idea, it was nothing to do with me, he wanted a slow cruise and preferred being last.

They grow some funny sheep up this way, they look just like Llamas. What do they taste like, I wonder.

I think this was the bridge that was pictured in the newspaper with a car parked where the wall used to be. The caption was ‘lucky’. I’ve heard people say this and I’ve never understood it. Surely, if there is such a thing as luck, incidents like this have to be unlucky.

A little further on at the lock onto the river V spotted a couple of logs outside a wooden hut by the canal. Do you want those, she asked. Best not, in case they’re there for a reason, said I. We later found out Del (Derwent 6 ) had left them here for the likes of us, dooohhh.

Alrewas was welcoming with plenty of spaces for boats, even at three in the afternoon, something we’ve never seen before. And yes, we did the butchers and the garden stall for its home made raspberry jam, the best ever.

Coal boat Monarch was just round the corner from us on Thursday so we exchanged gas bottles and lent a sympathetic ear to the ongoing saga of rising licence prices.
The sooner we belong to a waterways charity and exchange the current £1000 a year licence for a £25 charity membership the better. Oops, dreaming again.

Fradley will do us for the night and seeing Chris and Stelle were at home on nb.Belle we invited them over for evening nosh.

Us both being Sandhills boats there was plenty to talk about over a meal. Chris has one of those specialist jobs where one gets to know what goes on behind the scenes in the public transport business. I find everyone has a story or two, it’s just finding the time to draw them out, I find it fascinating. In fact I find most sorts of work fascinating as long as I don’t have to do it.

Friday was bitterly cold, one of those days you could do with a trad stern and a pram-top.
It was freezing hands, red nose and watery eyes all the way down to Streethay Wharf. The channel between the yard’s boats was so tight I thought we’d sink a couple of them before we were through, but we made it without touching paint.

We’d heard this was blogger’s alley but hadn’t realised how many there were here.
First up was Derwent 6. Al was away from home so Del was holding the fort. He looked too happy for my liking.

A few minutes with the bow in the bushes and onwards again to find Moore 2 Life and No Problem round the corner.
We finished up taking over all the piling to Tamworth, or so it seemed.

I shan’t go into detail but suffice to say that V and me broke our teetotal resolution and shared a bottle or two with Vic, Sue, Chas and Anne on as many boats as we could stagger to. I exaggerate of course, we broke the drink cycle in order to eat and sleep, so please don’t get the wrong idea.

Sunday lunch saw six around the table on No Problem for a smashing meal in brilliant company.

We had a lovely time this weekend and it was good to catch up on the news. It seems ages since we’ve seen them, they’re all super boaters, long may we bump into them.

Monday brought changes with us staying behind another day while the others head off towards Atherstone and the sunny south.

Best O’Mates is just around the corner so we’ll catch them somewhere down the cut and Derwent 6 is expected any minute now. Spotted nb.Paris this afternoon, we last saw her on the Leicester Line. She’s got one of those memorable numbers – 51000.

This week we’ll mostly be heading south towards Atherstone where we’ll pick up MiL for a mini cruise down the Coventry Canal. Assuming all goes well our next appointment will be in the Braunston area where we’ll meet up with Sarah-Kate for the spring cruise. Can’t wait.