Baptism of fire continued!!!
Day 3 wasn't too bad, weather wise or luck wise really. We needed to take some water on board and get a pump out, but there was a marina at Wrenbury. I walked down to the marina, only to be told the awful weather the previous day had burst their water pipes (HOW?) and there was no water to take on or any to pump out with. Whats more, we could forget about going further than Wrenbury as a tree had come down at the next lock and BW had closed that part of the canal!!!
At Wrenbury there is a lift bridge, an electric one. Being such green narrowboaters, we were a bit scared to use it but we had no choice. We had to get out of Wrenbury to get to a (new) turning point to go back again. We started off towards the lift bridge, and there was our first bit of good cheer of the holiday. There were engineers working on it, so they very kindly stopped the traffic and opened it for us. I must admit we made a bit of pigs ear getting through it, but get through it we did. We went up to the turning point, turned around and started to go back.
After a while the sun came out, and it started to dawn on me that despite all the things that had gone wrong, I was really enjoying myself. The 2 Chrisine's and Lucy were moaning about the cold, the weather, no supermarkets!! But me? Put it this way, I have never had a hobby I was totally absorbed with, but being on that canal boat felt 'right' as if I belonged there. It was like falling in love and I started to look around and enjoy the scenery and tranquility. It was on the way back that we noticed how much higher than usual the water level had been the day before. One lock we had gone up in had finally stopped filling about half an inch from the top of the lock gate, going back down it was a lot lower, and the bywashes a lot slower. We decided to go to Nantwich and stay there for a few days.
After spending another night at Hurleston we made our way to Nantwich and moored up. I had never been to Nantwich so was really surprised when I saw all the tudor style buildings. It was raining so we found a nice (another!!) pub and had lunch there. Lucy and Christine 1 were thrilled to bits because there was a supermarket and a Woolworths!! Christine 2 pottered about in the shops and I settled down to a nice Migraine. Oh well.
It was pretty uneventful really as we stayed in Nantwich. The lady at the laundry in Nantwich marina expressed surprise when I told her I was loving it. She told me that after the storm a lot of seasoned boaters had given up and gone home. She also told me there were a lot of stoppages on the canal because of fallen trees. Nothing untoward happened, the boat started first time, we got water and finally had enough shopping to cook our own dinner!!!
We had to start making our way back towards the marina, in 5 days I suppose we had travelled all of a 10 mile round trip!! That day was absolutely beautiful, a real Indian summer day. Lucy and I were on the back of the boat steering and dancing about to the radio. There wasn't a soul about apart from cows, sheep and birds. We made our way back to the pub we had stopped at the first night, and there we saw the boat that had pulled us off the ledge the second day. I think they were highly relieved to see we were actually able to steer the boat now and much better boaters than when we started. The 2 Christines and Lucy were thrilled to bits about going home the next day and vowed NEVER to set foot on a boat again. I was a bit sad. We spent the afternoon cleaning and scrubbing the boat, had some lunch then set off up the Middlewich branch to moor up outside the marina. we spent our last night on the boat uneventfully, with me raving on about what a great time I had had and the others promising not to accompany me ever again.
The morning started bright and early for us, as Arthur was meeting us at the lock at 9am. He walked onto the boat and stared in amazement. 'Goodness!' He exclaimed 'The boat is so clean' He then went onto explain that when hirers took the boat back it was sometimes in a disgusting state. So if you are one of those hirers, SHAME ON YOU!!!!.
Finally we got to Crewe station for a 10.30 train back to London. We got there to discover the 10.30 had been cancelled, but the guy informed us that a London train was due in on platform 5 in 5 minutes. We were on platform 6 and at that moment, I looked up and saw a virgin train come onto the next platform. We ran with our luggage and all piled on it, found a seat and settled down. After about 10 minutes, I looked up and saw that the train was actually on platform 11. I jumped up and said to the others ' Quick, get off this isn't platform 5, we are on the wrong train!!'
We ran down the carriage, just started to gather our luggage when the train started pulling out. Panic stricken, I asked another passenger where the train was headed and he told me Hollyhead!!! As far as the others were concerned I was dead. They cursed me and made me explain to the train manager that we were on the wrong train. Very kindly he didn't charge us and told us the next stop was Chester and to get off there and come back. To add insult to injury for the others, on the way to Chester we passed the marina we had just come from. Lucy was not impressed. I think in the end, we got back to Euston about 5 that evening as Railtrack were still working on the points.
True to their word, my daughter Christine and her friend Lucy have NEVER set foot on a boat since. I live in the area now and pop down occassionally to the marina. I often laugh about my 'Baptism of fire' I did take my daughter there recently and she wouldn't even go and stand on the boat. Her son loves it, but then he is only (almost) 3. I have had quite a few boat holidays since, all of them have been fantastic. I just love being on a boat. I must have been a working boat person in a previous life!!
Christine and Arthur will have 4 boats next season, the business has taken off really well. If you are interested you can get them at www.cheshirecatnarrowboats.co.uk