Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Trent and Mersey in the snow

Well, we went cruising as planned on Saturday the 23rd of March for my birthday cruise. The M1 was almost deserted because of an amber warning for snow, certainly not the weather we had at the same time last year. We arrived at Mercia Marina a little earlier than anticipated and Justin from Aqua Narrowboats allowed us to take the boat early as we were the only idiots customers taking a boat out.

We had our tuition, wrapped up with thick sweaters and waterproofs and set off on our way. The strong easterly was behind us as we decided to cruise to Branston for the night. I have never cruised in the snow before and must admit, the thought of icy locks scared me a little but we got through them and moored for the night with a take away pizza. We woke the next morning to see we had had snow overnight, covering the tow path and the boat with about 3inches of snow. It looked utterly beautiful and didn't put me off one bit. The boat was toasty warm, we had facilities in the villiage so decided that instead of aiming for Stone, we would spend the day there. A really lovely couple in a boat in front (which was called Norma Jean) came and chatted to us and even went and got a paper for us. Sadly I never got their names. Sue and I had a walk around Branston villiage and the waterpark and then came back to cook a nice roast dinner.

On Monday we took the executive decisions to go as far as Alrewas only as I was worried that the river section might close once we were past it. Once again we set off and with good waterproof clothing and some snazzy knitted hats were quite warm on the back of the boat. This year I decided to let Susan do a lot of  the steering while I helped out my friend Christine with the locks.

In the wooded section just past Barton Marina we came upon another hire boat crewed by 3 men, as we approached they suddenly veered over the canal and motioned for us to get back, I put the boat in reverse and then slowly approached them on tick over as they pointed for us to go on the inside of the them close to the tow path. As we drew level one of them lifted the deck board up and lots and lots of black smoke started coming up from the engine, this was the reason they had veered across the canal, they had suddenly lost all engine power. Thinking they were on fire, we offered them help and then grounded ourselves on the bank!! Luckily it wasn't on fire and eventually we reversed off and went around them while they called the hire base. I made a mental note to not hire from Shakespeare, hiring from Aqua has spoilt us!! :-)

Finally we got to the dreaded river section, and although it was running fast the board had indicated that it was open as normal, a couple had locked us through the previous lock and had warned us that the wind coming across the flat landscape made it near on impossible to land at the lock landing so they had left the gates open, as we approaced Alrewas lock, the gates were still open so we were able to go straight in. I used the ladders to get up and lock us through, it's the first time I have used the ladders but as I plan to buy my own boat and cruise solo, it's something I may have to do more often. After going through Alrewas to the turning point, we found a mooring spot along from the water point and moored there.

I often read from other boaters blogs about how good the chinese is, so that night we had a chinese and I must say, it was the best I have ever had. Yummy

Some friends we made in Alrewas

On Tuesday we went to the National Memorial Arboretum. Derbyshire council no longer run a daily bus service, a decision I think, that is very sad and utterly stupid. The long (safest) walk is mostly on grass verges beside a busy dual carriageway with traffic whizzing past at 70 mph, crossing over 2 roundabouts and then into the arboretum. Totally unsuitable for people with children or disabilities, the alternative (Which we did on the way back) is even worse, by crossing the A38 without the aid of a bridge, underpass or even lights. That was a terrifying experience.

Very Poignant words

It was a bitterly cold day, so we only stayed for a few hours, the ground was waterlogged too. I am glad I have seen it, it is a reminder of how lucky I am, no matter what goes wrong in my life. The shop is fantastic and I managed to get a bottle of Pussers Rum for my Dad, which is the only thing my Dad liked about the navy after being transferred to the Fleet Air arm after being demobbbed from the RAF. I really hope that at some point the bus service is restored, I would imagine without it a lot of people won't visit.                         

We stayed at Alrewas until Wednesday then crusied back to Branston for the night. Thursday saw us getting a bus to Burton and doing what girls like doing best, shopping!! I really liked Burton, it was great for shopping and at the Market I bought another snazzy hat!    

Despite the snow, I have loved it. I even took the boat back into the marina through the ice on Saturday  morning. I have always has a fear of tight turns but as I got some practice at the waterpoint in Horninglow basin decided to go for it. It was the first ice we had encountered all week but I managed, much to the relief of Lyndon, to bring Aqua Bwywd into the fuel berth. (Secretly, I think he wanted me to be the icebreaker!!)

Yes I have now boated in all weathers and I love it as much now as I did when I first hired a narrow boat.

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