Sunday, 12 May 2019

Alan shares his birthday meal with an abundance of dogs.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Cath)

Richard brought us a couple of bags of coal, and a gas cylinder at about 8:30, as we were just finishing breakfast, so we set off towards Great Haywood fairly early, taking advantage of the locks that the Chamberlains had just come down through.

Turning from the Coventry to the Tent and Mersey at Fradley
The weather has picked up a bit from last week, but it's still a little cold. We haven't lit the stove, although quite a few boats have done. It was a day of mostly steering through the Trent Valley - flat meadowlands dotted with alder and willow trees, with dark forested hills in the distance. And not a lot of locks. The canal is winding and shallow - we are often going aground many feet from the bank, while the juvenile Trent winds alongside the canal for many miles.

At Rugeley we found a mooring for Flamingo, and Alan and I went to top up on a few supplies before we ate a quick lunch and headed off north again.

We are trying hard to share steering and locking duties.
At Great Haywood Lock an older woman boater asked 'Is this the Flamingo that was a trip boat at Trentham Lock?' Yes, it is. She then told us that she had known the boat well, and that the owners of it seemed to have quite a thriving business running trips during the 70s and 80s. She told us the names of two people who had owned the boat, but these aren't names that are known to us. Was Flamingo owned by more people during those two decades than we originally thought? Time for some investigations perhaps?

At Hoo Mill Lock we decided that, as it was Alan's birthday, we wanted to eat at the pub, so to make things easier I decided to go for my 'run' along the towpath, so that I could shower, and we'd be ready to go to the pub in Weston earlier.

We are back to regular locks, after many miles with very few.
I started the NHS 'Couch to 5K' programme' last week, but 'running' today was much harder than those I did last week. It was warmer, and the towpath was uneven and slippery - not really enjoyable. I used to run years ago, but under instruction from my doctor I'm being careful and getting back into running slowly - hence following the NHS podcasts.

We have worried about finding moorings for a 71' 8" boat, having found it hard enough on trips this way with a 50' leisure boat in the past, but so far we have been lucky, and we found a good mooring in Weston, with the boat well in to the side, and no worry about the dogs having to teeter on a plank to get to the bank. I rang the pub, 'Do you take dogs?' Yes, they did. So we set off.

"We are ringing up to check it is OK to bring dogs to the pub......" (!)
The pub was noisy, and the food a bit limited for vegetarians (I had forgotten that is was Sunday, and I'd read the normal menu on-line), but it was OK. What we hadn't expected is just how many dogs there would be in the pub. More and more dogs came into the pub with their owners so that in the end there was a melee of wagging tails and tangled leads. Trying to get them all to sit at the same time for a photo was impossible, they were so happy to be in a proper dog pack.

We spent time discussing where we need to be tomorrow night, and that we will have to have an early start and a long day to get through Harecastle tunnel on Tuesday. With planning stops you need to be aware that certain places are not the most salubrious to stop overnight, so because we didn't want to be in the vicinity of Trentham Lock overnight, we'll be having a short day tomorrow, then a long day on Tuesday.

Fradley to Weston
Miles 15.5, Locks:7
Total Miles 81.7, Total Locks:37

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