Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Crisp Weekend Cruise

Friday 11th December 2009.
We arrived at the boat well after dark in temperatures hovering just above zero. It took about 90minutes to get the boat up to normal cosy winter temperature employing the services of both the central heating and the solid fuel stove. I guess a steel boat gets cold it takes a little longer to warm up than a house made of bricks and mortar – however the boat floats an lot better than the house ever would.

Saturday 12th December 2009.
It was our intention this weekend (as a minimum) to at least turn the boat on its moorings in order to re-orientate ourselves with the marina. The boat was opposite way round from our normal orientation (a necessity brought on by strong winds last time we moored up) and Elaine & I were struggling to come to terms with this 180 degree disorientation (particularly after a bottle of wine).
However, it was a lovely crisp winter morning with clear blue skies and no wind; an opportunity to go for a short cruise that we couldn’t miss.
I wasn’t sure what winter hours would be worked by the marina staff so before we departed I thought it prudent to get a new bag of smokeless coal from the shop as I had just emptied the last bag into the coal scuttle. Pulling out of the marina at about 11.00am we travelled down to Wolseley Bridge for lunch; (The Wolseley Arms looked busy so had lunch on the boat). Then we cruised a little further toward Rugeley before winding above Bridge 68 and mooring just before the ‘Boaters Christian Fellowship’ near Bridge 69. An excellent rural mooring that we had not stopped at since October when we joined narrowboat ‘Tramper’. Elaine prepared a wonderful meal while I………………..…read the paper; (A very important task)!
Across the canal a family recently bought a field and have been busily spending weekends creating a smallholding, rearing alpacas, pigs, chickens, etc. The young lad from the family crossed the bridge and walked along the towpath past the boats shouting “eggs for sale” swinging a basket. We couldn’t resist giving him some business (despite the fact we had just bought eggs that morning from the farm shop) and bought a dozen eggs from the young man. He acknowledged they had only owned the land since June or July and he said the worst thing about the winter was travelling down to the smallholding in a morning to unfreeze the livestock feeders. The eggs were only small but that didn’t spoil the transaction – we vowed we would ‘taste-test’ them in the morning.

Sunday 13th December 2009
A slow start on another fantastic clear sunny day (although it was very cold). Elaine prepared scrambled egg and bacon. The eggs were delicious. We travelled up through Colwich Lock (finding it difficult to spot any improvements after the recent stoppage – in fact the gate paddle ratchet was jammed open and the bottom gate wouldn’t stay shut). Then we slowly dawdled along the canal past Shugborough Hall exchanging the usual greetings with moored boaters, and up through Haywood Lock.
Just before arriving back at the marina, we approached a line of maybe eight fishermen, so after passing an oncoming boat, I opted to take the middle line between moored boats and the towpath. At tick-over, this would hopefully create least disturbance between the fishing areas they had chosen to fish (i.e. both against the towpath side and against the moored boats on the opposite bank). To no avail – although some fishermen exchanged pleasant greetings one guy who shouldn’t go fishing if he can’t cope with the cold and was clearly too annoyed at his own poor performance shouted, from behind a massive brolly. Suggesting we drive down the middle – a position I was already in (if only he used his eyes). It is therefore now quite clear to me that you can never keep all fishermen happy. It is therefore now no longer my intention to try! If it wasn’t for the canal boat they wouldn’t have a canal to fish in. Why do fishermen feel canal boaters should exercise such caution and observe such etiquette when passing them? When in fact the majority of fishermen fish on white bollards, fish opposite moored boats, fish near locks and bridges and their licence is chicken feed compared to the charges we pay in order to maintain the canal.
Overall a great weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment