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Archive for October 25th, 2014

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 30

Posted by indigodream on 25 October, 2014

Rewind to Tuesday 2nd September

Stafford (Radford Bridge) t0 Great Haywood

The aqueduct over the River Sow - such a wonderful stopping place...

The aqueduct over the River Sow – such a wonderful stopping place…

I was really excited today as we’d be cruising through the famously beautiful Tixall Wide – we haven’t been there since we cruised this way in our share boat nb Dragonfly.

Little was I to realise that there was an even better mooring place – just beyond the aqueduct over the River Sow – tranquil and deserted – a perfect spot for lunch, houndie rummaging and DIY.

But I’m ahead of myself again – the jeweled mist of the night soon vanished as the sun rose in a clear sky. It was a beautiful day and we weren’t in a hurry so Richard spent the morning polishing the side of the boat. This is a “paint preservation” move – we’ve booked to have Indigo Dream repainted – in 2016! We want Andy Russell to do the job (he did our wonderful artwork), and he doesn’t have any slots before then, so we have to make our paint last! We will have a bit of touching up to ourselves but that’s a job for another day. We’re now using a Craftmaster polish, which is giving us a very good finish and should give our dwindling paint a bit more life – Indigo Dream certainly gleamed in the abundant sunshine.

Perfet for rummaging....

Perfect for rummaging….

The hounds enjoyed the last of the pub’s leftovers for their breakfast – they approve of carveries and seemed very disappointed when we told them we weren’t going back for more. Despite the proximity of the village, the towpath was quiet enough for us to leave the hounds sunbathing on their sheepies on the back deck, watching the world not going by.

A fair few boats passed us on the way to Penkridge and beyond – when we set off at midday we found that the previously packed moorings beyond the bridge were now deserted. The only pub for 10 miles is obviously a considerable draw πŸ™‚

This next stretch of canal up to Great Heywood must surely rank as one of the most beautiful anywhere on the network. The soft green landscape sways from green swards to shadowed woods to soaring views over gentle valleys known only to canal dwellers. We were heading for Tixall Wide, but the disadvantage of that well-known beauty spot is just that – it’s well-known and boaters flock there. Not that a flock of boaters is a bad thing, but we chose to stop in a more secluded spot – just beyond the aqueduct over the River Sow.

perfect for running...

perfect for running…

Although we could hear cars tooting their horns as they passed over a distant humpbacked canal bridge, the aqueduct seemed wonderfully isolated. I took the hounds for a rummage and some joyfully unrestrained zoomies. That quickly wore them out and they enjoyed an extended snooze on their sheepies while we made lunch and polished the other side of the boat…

We enjoyed the peace and the freedom here, so it was a huge wrench to pull the pins and actually move to Great Heywood. But we needed to be close to a road as we had very special rendezvous later on that evening….

We enjoyed Tixall Wide anew – it is a very special place, though the moorings were already well-occupied. It is famous for its kingfishers, though we have yet to see one there.

We got to Great Heywood early afternoon and stopped at the services to take off rubbish and take on water. We like to fill our drinking water bottles every day if we can, though I think we’re hardy enough to drink slightly older water, especially when it’s been through the super-heat/pressure of the coffee machine. Of course, if we’re worried we can always drink beer – this is why we always carry stocks of “emergency hydration” πŸ™‚

perfect for racing...

perfect for racing…

The services were typically busy and I was wondering whether we’d find a mooring for the night. But I was pleasantly surprised – as Richard cycled back to get the car, I moved the boat through the bridge (travelling North) and there was a fine selection of unoccupied 48-hour mooring rings. I chose the rings furthest from the road (always thinking about the hounds) and moored up neatly (as you always do when there’s not a daft ‘apeth glaring at you from his boat!). I was astonished to see that the previously good but unsophisticated farm shop had a swanky new cafe – I resolved to explore it the following day. But for now I pottered around the boat, fed the hounds and took them for a postprandial bimble along the towpath.

Richard came back around 6pm then we had to get moving because we were driving, with hounds, to meet old friends Doug and James from nb Chance. Like many boating friendships, it might be months, if not years, between meetings as our cruising takes us off in all directions, but when we do get together the intervening time just disappears πŸ™‚

and finally, perfect for relaxing :-)

and finally, perfect for relaxing πŸ™‚

We had hoped for a boaty meeting around Great Heywood, but the delay in Penkridge put us beyond all hope of catching up with nb Chance and at Great Heywood they’d be heading south and we’d be heading north. But that’s the sheer usefulness of a car – they were moored in Branston so we piled down to the Bridge Inn to meet them for supper. We have happy memories of the Bridge Inn – the canal here is where Archie took a dive off the front deck……or was he pushed??

The Bridge Inn is not a dog-friendly pub, but we reckoned it was just about warm enough to sit outside. It was certainly warm enough for the mosquitoes!

We had a wonderful evening, and, after a good supper retired to nb Chance for a nightcap. Doug and James were kindness itself as our black greyhounds sprawled over their cream carpets (we did put the sheepies down – honest!). The hounds were very tired, but Ollie did wake up for long enough to devour some biscuits (now were they digestives or custard creams??) – he’s got such a sweet tooth! We nattered forever and might be nattering still if we hadn’t had to drive back to Indigo Dream! These magical meetings with magical friends are really what makes cruising so special πŸ™‚


Reflections - the boundaries between the real and surreal worlds seem pretty thin here :-)

Reflections – the boundaries between the real and surreal worlds seem pretty thin here πŸ™‚

The view from Tixall Lock...

The view from Tixall Lock…

A touch of the gothic in an otherwise rural landscape...

A touch of the gothic in an otherwise rural landscape…

Tixall Wide - deservedly famous and popular beauty spot...

Tixall Wide – deservedly famous and popular beauty spot…

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