One benefit of an early morning start that we’ve not considered is the serendipitous one of bumping into delightful friends that we didn’t know were in the area.
As quite often happens, you meet another boat right in a bridge ‘ole. On this occasion it was wonderful as it was Andrew (Commodore of the St Pancras Cruising Club) and his wife Frances on nb “Doris Katia” out on their summer cruise. The few seconds we had to say our ‘hellos’ was the first delight of the day.
On long stretches of water without locks there have to be points at which planks can be lowered down into the water to form a dam so that emergency draining of a shorter stretch of water can be achieved. The planks have to be stored somewhere and in the bridges on this part of the system they have cleverly built voids into the bridges which are protected by a little iron door.
After joining the Trent and Mersey Canal at the famous Fradley Junction we journeyed north west in the direction of Rugeley, passing through Armitage (home of the factory making some of our finest toilets!) and where the canal sits high above the the roadway and the Plum Pudding pub named because of its proximity to the dreaded ‘tunnel’ of the same name.
Doug walked ahead through the tunnel itself, and the desperately narrow passage after it, to make sure no boats were coming the other way. There’s no chance of reversing if something goes wrong!
Other sights on the cut today (after we’d stopped briefly in Rugeley for some shopping) were a ‘stranded’ narrow boat which looked as though its owner had been travelling too fast and gone off the road ………
……. and, some very run down but romantic looking farm buildings just before the pretty little Colwich lock.
The Colwich lock probably has the shortest gate arms there are. Without the leverage they are a bit hard to open and close but, due to the closeness of the bridge they can’t be any longer. Good design!
When we got to Great Haywood, where we’d planned to meet up with friends Neil and Pauline on nb Waterlilly(she of the cupcakes) for an evening together. Pauline was at the Haywood Lock to help us through …..
…… and a hundred yards further on Neil was ready to lend a hand to get us safely moored up next to them on nb “Waterlily”. Coffee and cakes were first on the menu and then, after “Chance's” engine had cooled enough, James set to work on and oil change. Today, passing through Armitage, “Chance” clocked up 2000 hours so, with an oil change at every 250 hours, it was due today.
So, after a shower and a rest, we are looking forward to the second delight of the day – spending an evening with Pauline and Neil. Happy Days!