This is Steve & Viv Carter's log of the trips and travails on the narrowboat Adagio – liveaboards from October 2015. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (Mark Twain)” firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen & Lucia moved off early-ish, we waved them goodbye but would catch them up later at Fradley bridge. In fact we leapfrogged them at Rugeley when they stopped to visit Tesco. Just one lock, Wood End today plus the excitement of two very narrow stretches near Rugeley and Armitage.
Our glorious chums, Stephen & Lucia, known by all as those Sicilians! Are back. And they’re out on their boat, Two’s Company, doing the Leicester Ring. We hope to coincide . . . somewhere and that somewhere is Wolseley Bridge (No 70) on the Trent & Mersey for the sole aim of dining together at the Shimla Indian restaurant. So we slip our moorings at 0845 and bimble a few hours to just beyond bridge 78 and adjacent to a rare nature reserve – an inland salt marsh.
Perhaps, just perhaps, our favourite stop is the town of Stone. Decent, quiet and all so convenient moorings. Convenient for shops, water, refuse, pubs, shops, pubs . . . Chance for a good stop. A few days of rest and recuperation and beer. And a new shop – a mirage perhaps? No, it’s a real M&S foodhall, right by the canal. Yes, we’ll stop here for a bit of R&R.
Sunday and time to move on. Six more locks – through Etruria, Stoke, Hem Heath and then Barlaston. The sun was now out.
Steve has put his back out – must be all those 32 locks – so a day off tomorrow. And why the title? Well, some bits of our travels have been a bit stressful, hard work, wet etc. So today was, yes, almost enjoyable. 😉
We met a nice single-handed chap, called David, on Snowgoose. He was out of Venetian marina and was heading for the Harecastle tunnel. We’d helped him up through some of the locks – just setting paddles and opening gates etc. I suggested we repeat the same today, only we’d planned just to do the next six locks only, just around 2 and a bit hours away. So we all set off – up the Lawton locks, Hall’s Locks and Church Locks – it was quite warm!
Saturday, 6th July. It was so quiet – boat movement wise – that we thought we’d move – it did rain and it was still spitting . . just the 6 remaining locks and the Harecastle tunnel to do. So we went. And it did rain. Quite a few locks were out of action plus we got stuck in No42! The gate wouldn’t fully open. So a bit of argy-bargy and we did get the boat in. No pix here, cos it was too wet. The canal was turning more orange as the water from the tunnel contains iron minerals. We got to the top and met up with Snowgoose again. And luckily, saw 4 boats ready to go in the tunnel – here you have to wait. The tunnel master allows six boats in at a time, then shuts the door. It’s a 40-45 minute transit – 2.7km or 1.5 miles!!! Anyway, in we went . . at least it wasn’t raining!
We left Nantwich on Monday, 1st July. Swung the boat and chugged back to the wharf for a pump out – because it was sooo nice! The chap does it all for you and spends about 40 minutes doing a very thorough job. Recommend the place. We then went on Barbridge junction to cruise the short arm to Middlewich – passing through a few pretty big locks – the first had a queue but three volunteers were on hand to help (Cholmoldeston Lock). More queues at Minshull lock, well, I suppose it is July now. And to moor at a quiet spot, just beyond Aqueduct marina and near the aqueduct over the Weaver, where a certain dog went for a swim. Tuesday was on to Middlewich. And then it was on to the Trent & Mersey canal and the long cruise south.
Having spent a few days in Wrenbury and then a day between bridges 3 and 4, we finally left the Llangollen canal. Passing Gordon on Cut Loose as we locked down. Spending a quiet few days in Nantwich. Letting the heatwave come and go. We tried, successfully to get a Sainsbury’s order delivered and lo, it came to pass! Brilliant. Saved the long walk into town. Mind you Steve did drive his ickle bike around quite a lot – getting some tapas from M&S plus some special gin (Tarquins, Sea Dog @57%) and some special rum (Venezuelan Diplomático) , nice, well, we finally sold our Bitcoin – bought for £400 and sold for £1,000! Set up the satellite dish, as we want to watch n record bits of Glastonbury. The Killers, one of our favourite bands are headlining on Saturday. And owing to a hard drive failure, we lost the last Glasto recording. So settled here for a couple of days……. probably not much more blog as we are retreading our steps home….. but who knows!
Well, 10 days stuck at Grindley Brook, then 3 days here in Marbury. Loads more boats turning up – 22 now. Some hire boats came and leap-frogged 5 waiting ones. Ooer, missus, there’s going to be fisticuffs – barge poles at dawn. And I was almost right. Unfortunately. We enjoyed a revisit to the Swan – perhaps the best place we’ve been to on this cruise. We didn’t enjoy Sunday night when the boats ahead of us started to move up (why?), so we followed on and I still don’t know why we did. Never mind. Up at 0600 . . letting some boats go first . . . but by 0800 we were on our way – slowly past the almost-breach, then on past two lift bridges and moor up in Wrenbury. Hurrah. Freedom. But so very very stressful and maybe the final straw?
Final straw? Maybe. We’ve found the last 12 days all a bit too much. Too many boats and too many boaters. Perhaps its time to try and chill a bit more by returning to the land and a nice small cottage somewhere . . .?