Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Day Of Very Variable Weather

(Boats Sickle & Chalice - posted by Alan)

Straight into the first lock in the rain.
I didn't have masses of enthusiasm for starting off today.and I think none of the rest of the family did either.  There had been fairly severe thunderstorms overnight, and whilst David seemed to have slept through  them, I had not.  Now it was tipping down with rain, and fairly obvious we would be soaked even before we had completed the first locks.

Much of the day was spent like this.
Whist we have drawn up a reasonably relaxed draft schedule of where we need to be andwhen, with some flexibility, it is not slack enough to allow us not to move on any particular day if the weather is bad, so eventually the wet weather gear had to be donned, and the day started.

We switch the order of the boats for the last two locks - still raining!
One distinct advantage though, is that there is regularly queuing for the locks as you attempt to leave Fradley.  It is a busy junction, with traffic arriving from multiple directions, but often, it seems, all wanting to go the same way when they get there.  Today however no such problems, and as the lead boat I was conveniently able to motor "Sickle" straight into the first lock as somebody was just leaving it.

After the first two there is maybe a mile to the next, so the decision is do we stick together, or do I go ahead alone with "Sickle", and see if I can progress without the others until "Chalice" arrives.  I did, and it was a good decision, as I was right through the lock, and able to set it up for them before they appeared, although I have to say I am wary of working alone in such wet conditions.  "Sickle's" tug deck, and many of the stone sided locks are very slippery.

Approaching Great Haywood the sun finally breaks through.
Thereafter I got much practice at steering with an umbrella up - not so easy with a boat that is heavy to steer, and has traditional controls, as it is with the very much less hard work "Chalice".

We stopped at the popular visitor moorings in Rugeley, and I was completely thrown when a young lady greeted me with much familiarity, but I initially completely failed to recognise her as a friend - my excuse is that it was somewhere completely out of normal context, and she was also dressed up against the weather, (sorry Louise!)).  Cath and David visited the huge new supermarket that has only recently been built there, and avoiding yesterdays mistake of not taking adequate breaks we hung on for lunch.  As we tried to leave in the very restricted space a flow of boats coming the other way made life quite difficult, although if the lady on the moored boat who released a completely unprompted tirade of abuse is reading this, I really do have no idea what was rattling your cage, because nobody actually did anything that should have upset you!

Tixall Wide - total tranquility!
As we carried on the rain stopped, and eventually gave way to pleasant sunshine, with the day eventually ending as a complete contrast to how it had started.  We had planned to stop on one of the pleasant moorings near Great Haywood, but realised only another mile would take us to the very scenic moorings at Tixall Wide.  Wee gambled that moorings would be available near the Wide itself - it is usually pretty full up here if you arrive in the evening.  We found one of the last spaces, just long enough for "Chalice", and tied "Sickle" alongside - this is one place there is always space for people to get past the boats if they are breasted up!  It really is idyllic here - one of the gems.

Fradley Junction to Tixall Wide
Miles: 14.0 (Chalice), 14.0 (Sickle), Locks: 10

Total Miles: 153.3, Locks: 65

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