Lower Burston Bridge to Tixall Wide
Before we pushed off this morning there were quite a few boats that passed us heading north. One of the first was very familiar, Tench, last seen with Heather Bleasdale at the helm, but today there was a man. I’m fairly sure it was Brian who we’d seen the new year in with at Bugsworth Basin, we waved but not being yellow we were out of context. As we untied the ropes a boat was coming towards us so we clung on and waited for it to pass, then another appeared around the bend behind us. This necessitated clinging on even harder as they showed no inclination of slowing down and Oleanna was wanting to speed up to join in. Mick thanked them (!) but it fell on deaf ears as the chaps were too busy chatting at the stern. Yesterday we’d come across the same boat near a bridge hole, there was no slowing down then, it was as if we’d not existed as Mick quickly brought Oleanna to a stop to avoid collision.
At Sandon Lock the speedy boat sat waiting almost mid channel for one to come up in the lock, waving at the lady to whip the paddles up. Once they were up his crew hopped off to work the lock for him. Normally I’d have headed up to help, but today I had no inclination, so we just waited for them to close the gates so that we could refill the lock. Soon from behind we were caught up by a boat we’ve been leapfrogging with for the last week or so since we were at Bramble Cuttings. Today they would reach their home mooring, so this would be the last we see of them.
Before Weston Lock we passed Dante and his acquaintances. He seems to be stuck now with the wrong crowd, turning greyer every day, such a sad demise of such a talented one.
Once we were down the next two locks we carried on, passing the entrance to Great Haywood Marina (Broken Foot Marina). A space opposite the cafe was free so we pulled in for some lunch. Opposite NB Autumn Wine was on it’s home mooring, they’d helped ferry me to Stafford Hospital back in February with my broken ankle. After devouring some of the cheese we’d bought at the festival for lunch, Mick set off with Oleanna to find a mooring as I headed to the Farm Shop for a couple of bits.
The hill up to the bridge seemed so small today. Last time we were here I hopped all the way up it with the support of Mick to a hire car to get me to hospital. Looking back we should really have called for an ambulance to help. With some mushrooms, tomatoes and hash browns I then walked along the towpath to meet up with Mick.
Who told so many boaters about Tixall Wide? The line of moored boats started and carried on, I could see the stern of Oleanna getting further away. There were plenty of git gaps, but few people around to ask to nudge up, anyway I hadn’t got a boat with me. Eventually Mick added Oleanna to the end of the line and was just tying up as I arrived. None of the really good view for us this time. We had pulled in next to NB Jemima, it also seemed familiar. It turned out that he and his five dogs had spent last winter on the Macc and I’m fairly sure he was moored opposite us at Christmas.
With so many woofers behind, what was I to do? I used the front door until I realised they were all either too slow or not interested in me. Then another boat arrived with another woofer. I was surrounded! But with plenty of friendly cover I managed to go for an explore. Playing chicken with pheasants is quite good fun.
The tunnel light has been gradually changing from chrome to orange so as it was still fine I got the Bar Keepers Friend out and returned it to silver. I also, at last, got round to soaking off the label on the stove flue pipe.
3 locks, 7 miles, 1 right, 1 speedy boater, 5 familiar boats, 2 new owners, 3 mushrooms, 6 tomatoes, 4 hash browns, 1 barbecue, 1 camp fire, 0 further to fall, 152 paces of git gaps, 6 boats worth, 6 woofers, 0 broken bones, 1 clean tunnel light, 1 clean flue, 1 battery being chased up!