Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Preston Brook to Shardlow - in 5 years!

Back in 2005, before I bought my boat, I went to the IWA festival at Preston Brook. My daughter came too and we have funny memories of arriving late at night in the dark, having forgotten a torch and trying to put up our tiny tent and inflate a big double mattress, with the stopper dropped somewhere in the grass... When it was finally done, we were weak with laughter, shushing each other to not wake people up. I folded the mattress over to get it in the tent and when it opened out it was too big, curling up at the sides and bringing the tent roof down a couple of inches above our noses. More giggling late into the night.. The next day (after we'd moved the tent from the 'lane' area we'd pitched it by mistake!) lots of excitement vistiting new boats and seeing all the possibilities of life afloat. We had lots of wild plans and of all the lovely things we saw, we knew our boat would be more beautiful than any of them! And of course, it is ;-)
Since then, I've been on parts of the Trent & Mersey canal a few times, heading to the Macclesfield or the Staff & Worcs canal or down towards the Oxford Union and seen these Preston Brook/Shardlow signposts. Always, Shardlow was many miles off. So it's funny to finally be able to take this photo!
A couple of villages back, I walked from the canal to the river Trent where there used to be a ferry wharf and place where goods were transferred from river to canal or maybe from canal to river? Anyway, on the other side of the river was a big sort-of manor house where a wedding party was gathered. If a strange woman and dog are in the background of your wedding photos, I'm sorry!

I include this rather dull photo to remind me of what it felt like to be crossing the mouth of the river Derwent - scary! But the water level was low so I needn't have worried at all. Nevertheless, now I'm at Sawley cut and preparing to go on the river Trent to Nottingham, I must admit to having bought myself a life-jacket. I do feel a bit daft putting it on but am a rubbish swimmer and travel alone so I'd rather feel daft than scared. I'm also thinking it'll be useful when I come down the river Soar later. I considered buying one for my dog but the designs were really bulky with squarish blocks that I don't think my dog would be comfortable with and which might actually cause him to catch on back doors etc and fall in! I'll see if there are other designs out there and meanwhile, he'll have to take his chances.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Chunky monkey & the big lock

It's fun being on a whole new canal - in this case, the Trent & Mersey between Fradley junction and Nottingham. It's a time of other 'firsts' too. I met a wide-beam for the first time since starting my life afloat. That seems strange after four years of cruising where I've always been on narrow-lock canals but here I'm flirting with the river Trent, on and off ;-) Seeing the widebeam, I was transported back to my first ever trip on a narrowboat with a lovely friend and teaching colleague, Cat, who called widebeams 'chunky monkeys'. She's got a lot to answer for, bless her! That first trip was all it took for me to be hooked.
The other first is doing a wide lock by myself. I haven't done it yet, just went to have a look at it ;-) I think it'll be ok although I forsee a small problem coming out of the lock... I'll be locking down and will need to bow-haul out as I can't get my dog back on otherwise. There's a bridge at the foot of the lock so I'll drop the rope on the roof as usual, only I'm worried cos it's much wider a space to be able to retrieve the boat out the other side. I need to remind myself that like everything else that has ever worried me about boating, IT'LL BE OK!