Thursday, 31 October 2013

A couple of firsts...

But before that...After leaving Mercia we had the shortish hop to Shobnall Fields on the edge of Burton Upon Trent. By now we were about 18 miles from Trent Junction and the end of the Soar and with a few days of rain behind us were quite glad too. Ali from Beacon boats had said that the Soar was steadily rising. Main task for Burton was to top up the cupboards and with Lidl about a mile away we made a trip in (and slow trip back) for both the days we were moored on the fields visitor moorings. Whilst there we also made use of a half decent Indian restaurant that was unlicensed and took the last of the wine that Deb's sister had kindly brought us up when they visited.

Mooring At Shobnall Fields

Tight access to the services at Shobnall Marina

We knew that we had a small portion of the Trent still to go but hadn't realised quite how much rain we had had. As we approached the wind was against us and would have been blowing us weir-wards and the evening sun was right in our eyes. We moored on the edge of a winding hole and went off to see what the flow was like for the next day - we had been told by a hire boater in the previous lock that the river was on red boards so we may have had to stay put for the day (awful mooring too about 10ft from the Ryknild Street Roman Road - now the busy A38.) After our walk to the Alrewas lock we were pleased to see that the river was on amber and there was a far better mooring point close to footbridge 44 about a mile east of the weir. The next morning the winds had died down (from about 18mph) to negligible so we had an early potter up the still swiftly flowing Trent (about 4" off red) LJ coped well, we haven't done much against the flow of rivers up until now and she nearly coped on low (1000 rpm) engine setting. Pressing the little green button and increasing revs to 1500 rpm made the going easy and a quick blip to full throttle (still 1500 rpm on the governed engine) saw a robust bow wave and an estimated 3.5 mph forward against a 3 mph flow (paced out the previous day with GPS and following a stick - very technical)

As we had left early, by 10.30 we were moored in Alrewas and sat on a sunny morning in an ideal wind free spot having tea and toast on the rear deck. Apart from a quick look around the village the only thing on the agenda was to visit the National Arboretum. We would have liked to have been here on the 11th of November but that's the day that CaRT close two of the routes (and our only option) into Birmingham so we have to get past them in good time. I've got quite a few pics of our morning out which I will endeavour to post nearer the date.

Last Mooring Point Before the River Trent
Tea on the Terrace after the last of our River sections

Next stop was an important one. Rugeley. We needed some secure (no mooring pins) moorings to stay for a couple of days this was the time of the 'storm that didn't come' - at least it didn't reach this part of the East Midlands (we had even gone out scouting trees that looked a bit iffy to check for fire wood). Any way on storm day we had hardly any wind, maybe a few 20 mph gusts, and virtually no rain. The other thing we needed to do (as well as look around the local town (home of the donkey jacket) was to wait for Deb's tesco order to arrive. Not food this time but a new vacuum cleaner - how exciting! I had re-wired a spur from the main prop gen so we can use the vacuum from the gen directly rather than through the inverter and battery bank. Even though it's a small vac, via the inverter it would draw about 140 Amps which wouldn't be nice for the batteries and would take juice out even with the engine running.

Making a run before the storm

Debs new acquisition
A beautiful next stage to Shugborough hall, somewhere that we had moored on our last trip here aboard a rather dodgy hire boat called Tin Can (Bucket o' Nails would have been a better name). We had promised ourselves a look around the hall but the buggers have closed it for the winter. On Route we (very nearly) bumped into the guys from Dolce Far Niente who don't blog but as we passed I shouted out 'I know all about you from Doug and James on NB Chance' expecting at least a bit of a shocked look both they said 'and we know all about you from them too!' In degrees of separation in the narrowboat circles you are never more than 100 yards from someone who knows Doug and James off NB Chance. Icing on cake once we had moored up was bumping into Ian and Irene (and Jade) from NB Freespirit. We were headed off for a stroll as we had arrived by about 12.00 (or 10.00 LJT) and we hadn't walked for more than about 100 yards when I saw Irene on the back of Freespirit with a laptop desperately trying to get a signal to post her latest blog. Within minutes we were sat in the warm with coffee and biccies talking like we had known each other for years. You know when you've got new friends when two hours seems like ten minutes and its still not enough. We had a great time with them for a couple of hours on each boat catching up and putting the world to rights - we'll have to moor near a pub next time guys. I must just remind myself of Jade as well, the best behaved Lab I have ever met, happy to share her space with strangers and lay at their feet - a remarkable young lady and not looking half her thirteen year age.

Journey to Shugborough

Shugborough Hall 

The Lovely Ian and Irene
OK the first first... In Lidl at Shobnall I bought a dual use pumpkin hoping to get enough flesh for a pie, or at least a couple of tartlettes and to carve my first pumpkin. When I  grew up in the 70's/80's Halloween was still very much an American holiday, we did the trick or treating but that was about it. Although Halloween was Calum's birthday we didn't used to take much notice of the trick or treaters and newly fashionable parties - if pumpkins were carved it would have been Deb and Jess before I got home from work. So here's my efforts and a Birthday pic of the old boy.

A bit tribal

I was going to carve a bone to go through the cheek holes...

Callum was never allowed to climb trees 

But he was always happy to help setting up the awning

As long as he had a bed with a view
 Second First... and this is where it all gets a bit surreal. The clocks changed last weekend, they went back an hour and we all lost a precious hour of evening daylight all because of some Victorian farmers or Scottish school kids, I'm not really sure which. I spent lots of time analysing our use of time and how we personally measure it. Actually the analysis was probably not that long (or I may have even dreamt it). We don't have to get up for work, we very rarely have appointment times, we can't find anything to really get into on TV - if we do watch it we just turn it on and pick what's acceptable. The sun rises this time of year at about 06.30 and sets about 4.45. To get the most out of the day you have to be early to bed and early to rise. Both of these are mental blocks. I can't get up at 06.00 and go out for a hike at 06.30, I can't go to bed at 9.00. We haven't put our clocks back an hour - we've put them FORWARD an hour. We've been getting up at 06.00 GMT which is 08.00 LJT (Lois Jane Time) Its now 6.30 pm LJT and I am about to have a plate of Deb's Risotto watching the geese fly over Tixal Wide - So if I agree to meet you in the pub somewhere, give me an hour or so either way. Normal service will resume in the spring (or sooner if we have a major time based cock up) 


  1. Oh thank you for saying such lovely things about Jade ( and us of course ). I think your plan on mooring near a pub is excellent. Hope we make it soon and yes we will be on your time!

  2. I had a teacher at school who insisted on leaving his watch on BST all year round, but you're taking things to a new level!

  3. That all sounds rather confusing! But on the other hand I haven't worn a watch for the last two and a half years and never know what the time is anyway!

  4. Sounds like you are having a busy time on the cut! Have fun and enjoy, its amazing how all our blogs make us known to people who have never met.

  5. Hi Debbie, thanks ever so much again for your ego boosting talk. Glutton for punishment - that's me. At least I can take the piss outta myself, so can other's if that's there thing !! Just the trials of coping with the 2 major things. Looking forward to that rendezvous we discussed. I did the Hatton 21 y'day. I loved your pictures & picnic on your blog too! And Debbie your looking well domesticated with your super Vac. Irene & Ian seem such a lovely couple, I've yet to have the pleasure in meeting them, but Irene has sent lovely posts. C u soon. xx Jacquie