We still don't really have any plans! Both Birmingham, and even Manchester had been cited as places we might try and pass through, but following the news of rioting in both these, (and other) cities, we are not feeling drawn to them at the moment.
|"Taygeta" - Full length "Middle Northwich"|
Still, now we are on our way up the Northern Oxford and Coventry canals, I guess the Trent and Mersey will follow, but today we had no particular objective where to end up.
|"Taygeta" - "Sickle" was initially this length.|
Which is probably just as well! We had agreed to call at Brinklow Boat Services, as we had an item to collect for Sickle - a "pigeon box" - the vented cover that goes on the engine room. Ultimately someone has one to sell us, but it's currently in use, (long story!), so they have kindly offered a loan of another for the time being. Brinklow is down an arm from "Stretton Stop", but we simply had no idea that this arm is as long as it is, or houses so many interesting boats.
|Very convincing but totally new "Northwich" boat.|
The owner of the pigeon box also owns Sickle's sister boat, (and another of the middle Northwich ice-breaker conversions), "Sextans", and is a mine of information about boats of many types. I hope we didn't interrupt his working day too much, but the opportunity to get a guided tour of the boats there was not to be missed! As well as some wonderful restoration work, they also build replicas of working boats. Their interpretation of the Grand Union "Northwich" boats is fantastic, and really the only thing that makes the replica distinguishable from the original is that the replicas are dead straight, and dent free, whereas the originals like "Sickle" and "Sextans" are full of ripples, and bear the scars of 75 years of use, in a wide variety of roles, ("Sextans" even having been a hire boat for part of her life). If I were in the market for a good replica boat, (I'm not currently!), this yard would be easily at the top of my potential builders list.
|"Bexhill" - The first working boat I steered (Early 1970s)|
We really spent longer at Brinklow than intended. The pigeon box is heavy, and Cath volunteered to start carrying it back to Chalice whilst I walked forther down the arm to look at more historic boats. I actually started to feel like I was walking through somebody's garden, so turned back, but was surprised not to catch Cath until she had carried a lump of steel all the way back.
|"Dorado" - Another lovely tug - a "Woolwich" this time.|
The rest of the day has been fairly uneventful and undemanding. We followed a couple of overly slow boats, both of whom might easily have waved us past. One did eventually, but not until after many many slow miles. The other trend has been for people with "top end" boats of the fake rivet "Washer Josher" variety to assume that they have a right to mid channel whilst pushing us into the bushes to scratch our paintwork only applied a year ago. In Sickle I would have called their bluff, I think, but we have been forced to give way a few times when more reasonable behaviour by the other steerer could have avoided it. Also it has been a very blustery day, meaning that it has been hard not to get blown to the side when forced to slow more than actually required, or even to keep stopping.
|Classic Hawkesbury Junction View (Number 1)|
We didn't experience these behaviours a month or two ago when we came down the canal, but probably passed a lot less "upmarket" boats then, who do seem to be the ones not showing a balanced consideration for others.
|Classic Hawkesbury Junction View (Number 2)|
We stopped at the Anchor Inn, near Hartshill. Thoroughly recommended, unless you don't like your chips very heavily "pre-salted". (My view is that I can always choose to add salt, but very hard to take it away!.)
|The Anchor Inn, near Hartshill|
Newbold to The Anchor Inn, Hartshill
Miles: 20.1, Locks: 1
Total Miles: 84.5, Total Locks: 40