Fradley visitor moorings
Stone, below locks
Trentham Bridge 104
Baloo, Bridge 140 T&M
Sunrise on the Middlewich Arm
Les Lobbs Diary
September 2013
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Fradley Junction, Trent & Mersey canal
Chilly or what!! I set off at six and after a few hundred yards discovered the source of the music I had heard in the night. There is a wooded area on the opposite side to the towpath that the military use for firing exercises and there had obviously been a rave/party, whatever the current word is during the night; there were still a few tents and "music" blaring out as I went past. Apart from that it was a quiet trip, but the cold wind spoilt it a bit and had got quite gusty by the time we reached Fradley junction with the Trent and Mersey canal. We came up two of the locks and tied up on the visitor moorings (just along from the ice cream shop!).
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The wind kept up for most of the night and it was still a bit blowy when we started this morning. There was only one lock and we met no boats until the outskirts of Rugeley, where we found a good mooring. Dawn's been restocking at Morrisons and also treated me to a new hat because she thinks mine is starting to look scruffy; got me worried, I'd better tidy myself up or she'll be looking to replace me next! Tomorrow should see us back at the marina, where the washing machine is going to take a hammering before we set off again. We are thinking of doing the four counties anti clockwise and then we have the choice of dropping down to Stourport, if time permits.
Gt Haywood
It was warmer this morning when we did the last hop from Rugeley to the marina; only 5 miles and two locks. Dawn is now testing the capacity of the marina washing machine before we get stuck into the jobs we need to do on the boat.
13.00 - Batteries removed and the area where they stand has been cleaned and painted, ready for their return in new battery boxes. We are thinking of fitting a solar panel next spring and have been trying to find a cable route from the roof back to the "electrics" cupboard; we eventually did it in the ceiling void by removing vents and lights until we were able to pull a cord through. Now we have a length of cord tucked up behind the vent covers ready to use as a pull through. Another job is to fit an auto bilge pump that we have into the container below the stern gland; this container catches the drips from the gland and I usually have to pump it out every few days, but if I don't catch it in time it spills into the main bilge.
19.00 - Bugger, bugger, bugger the battery boxes won't fit in the space we've got. On the bright side we fitted the pump and hose, now all we need is some more flex to wire it in.
Stone, below the locks
With the jobs done, there didn't seem much point in hanging around the marina so we decided to move on. Tony on nb Delilah returned from doing the 4 counties in 6 days, most people thought he had got lost on his way to the pumpout. There was a thick mist when we left the marina this morning, but the sun broke through by 09.00 and we tied up here just after ten.
18.00 - Management found a flex shop, so we should have enough to wire the pump in when we get our next rainy day (looks like Friday). The plums we found t'other day were miraculously turned into a tart and served with custard by chef this evening.
What was introduced into British Football on 2nd October 1976?
Bridge 104
All the Stone and Meaford locks were in our favour so we made good time and were tied up by 9.00 just south of Trentham. A cruiser, Baloo, came into the marina for a one night stop on Tuesday and we got chatting to Bill & Irene who were heading in the same direction as us. Because they start at a more civilised time than us, we have been passing each other and this morning they told us they were going to do the Caldon before carrying on round the 4 counties ring, so we'll probably meet them again further on. We were undecided whether to stop here or carry on through Stoke, but as the traffic was building up we plumped for here and who knows, we may get the pump wired in later today.
18.00 - Pump wired in and working; perhaps a good thing we did it today, because it's clouding over now and looking a bit bleak. The weather will determine what we do tomorrow.
Bridge 104
05.00 - It's been raining on and off since the early hours; I'll wait until it's light enough to see the sky before deciding whether to move on through Stoke.
09.30 - Still hissing down.
12.00 - Still at it and so, as it's getting near my bedtime, we'll try tomorrow.
13.00 - Chimney's on, stoves lit!
17.50 - Foraging again tomorrow; we've just had the last of the plums. Guess what, it's still raining, but forecast to stop overnight.
Stoke, Westport Lake
It was overcast when we started at six, but has kept dry all the way here. The locks were mixed, for and against us, but we made good time and filled and emptied at Etruria. The canal at Stoke is certainly a lot tidier than the last time we passed through with nowhere near as much rubbish in the water.
I was able to collect blackberries between locks and we exchanged a gas bottle at Bridge 117 - 6kg £17.64, (16p dearer than a 13kg!).
If it's dry tomorrow we'll go through Harecastle tunnel (1.6 miles) and make a start on Heartbreak Hill, if we're not too pogged on blackberry crumble/tart/pie.
Bridge 140
We made our fastest passage through the tunnel - 30mins; we were first there and went on our own. After a few locks we started to meet other boats, which worked out well in places. I think we had both had enough by the time we got here and they are good moorings, so we stopped. Bill phoned to say they were about an hour behind us and they tied up in front of us when they arrived. A boat coming towards us told us that they had just left our normal stopping place at Hassall Green because the farmer was muck spreading, so p'raps t'was a good decision.
Bill & Irene have carried on and I expect we'll meet up again tomorrow.
A 06.30 start and 10 miles and twenty locks later we moored at Middlewich, at 12.40. The smell from the chippy was tempting as we passed by, so we had cod, chips and peas for lunch. I collected some more damsons between the locks; now we'll see what head of catering can do with them this time. I think the trolley will be visiting Tesco later and that usually means a custard tart with our afternoon pot of tea.
We need to modify the pipework to the pump that we fitted a few days ago, but I'd rather do it out in the country as there's not much towpath here to put the deck boards on; we should have enough "bits" to do the job.
Bridge 22
This morning Dawn went shopping before we set off and we left at 10.00. It's only a 2.5 mile run with 1 lock to this mooring which, I've most likely said before, is one of my favourites and we've got the place to ourselves. The forecast is dry for today, so we're rubbing down and priming the scrapes we collected on our Nene trip and we'll have a go at the pipework after a bit of lunch.
18.00 - The priming is done and we've pulled the pipework apart and decided we need a different drip tray. The difficulty is getting a container that we can squeeze between the engine bearer and gearbox and it must be big enough and deep enough for the pump; if we can't find a purpose made container, a 2ltr milk carton could be adapted. While in her mucky gear, Dawn cleaned the oven and the floor; I'm wondering if she's got a mystery buyer lined up.
Bridge 4
A quick hop this morning to beat the forecast rain; 6 miles, 2 locks and tied up by 08.30. The sky was beautiful as the sun stuck his head up and the crew was snapping away; photo's of sunsets and sunrises never seem to do them justice.
nb Alton, the fuel boat, came by yesterday afternoon giving us a chance to top up with diesel; we've used 67ltrs since leaving the Nene.
Head of catering is now rummaging in the cupboards, looking for enough stuff to make some cakes. The stove is alight and the covers are on, so that's us snugged down for the day.
10.00 - The forecast was accurate, it's just started raining!
Bridge 4
05.00 - It rained most of yesterday, so for once we made the right decision and we ended up with a fruit cake and a date & walnut cake. The pump/pipework problem would be a lot easier to solve if the pipe came off the pump at 90 degrees. I had this sudden memory (anyone of a certain age will know what I mean) of seeing a right angle pump fitting somewhere and, after searching lots of boxes, voila; now of course we need dry weather to lift the engine boards and see what we can do with it.
Coole Lane picnic area
13.00 - A dry run up to Nantwich, where we filled and emptied and then it started to drizzle. We stopped after Bridge 89 and, when the rain cleared, we had a go at the pump; with the right angle outlet it just fitted in the tray and, with a few mods to the pipework, it works brilliantly. The sun had come out by then so we did Hack Green locks and tied up here just before one o clock; it's about 2 miles before Audlem and it's 15 lock flight.
I rang the doctor this morning and asked for an appt with the surgeon who did my leg, cos I still can't staighten it properly.
Bit of a false start today; we did 2 miles and in our second lock it started raining and a boat nipped into the next lock in front of us, meaning extra work for the crew so we stopped on the visitor moorings here. There are grassed areas round the locks which are slippery when it's raining, so safer to wait for it to dry out a bit.
12.00 - There are a few shops here, so head of purchasing went to get a loaf; she was drawn to the small charity shop that had just received a load of new stock - guess who offered them £20 for a mountain of wool. "If it won't go in the cupboards we can stuff it under the bed", good job I'm not allergic to the damn stuff, cos we must have a flock of sheep's worth by now.
05.00 - It sounds dry outside, so we'll make a move as soon as it's light enough, cos the forecast for tomorrow is not very ansom. There's a farm shop next to the cut at the top of the next flight, so something to aim for; we got some lamb from them last time we passed and it was gorgeous.
Market Drayton
11.30 - 6 miles and 18 locks and we're nicely tied up away from any trees; there's a strong wind forecast for tomorrow. It was fairly mild when we set off just after six but started getting cooler as we reached Audlem top lock and now is overcast and cold enough for us to have lit the stove. I've been playing "chase me" with a kingfisher on the last stretch and he let me get quite close before flying off in front of me, just skimming the water. Dawn's gone walkabouts with her trusty trolley and a promise of bringing Chinese back with her; just hope there are no wool or shoe bargains to be had!
Come all ye fair young maidens and harken unto me,
Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.
Randier than a sailor who's been six months at sea,
Never let a cricketer's hand an inch above your knee.

First let's take the pace man, pure speed from first to last!
My darlings do be careful; his balls are hard and fast.
Then there's the medium pacer, his balls swing either way;
He's really most persistent and can keep it up all day!

And watch for the off-spinner, girls, another awkward chap.
If you leave him half an opening, he will slip one through the gap!
Then there's the wily 'slow', pure cunning is his strength;
He'll tempt you, then he'll trap you with his very subtle length.

So ladies, do be careful, your mothers would agree.
Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.
And what about the opening bat, his struggles never cease!
He has only one ambition, to spend all day at the crease.

The number three is a dasher, he seldom prods and pokes.
When he goes into action, he has a fine array of strokes..
And do beware the slogger, not content with one or two;
When he arrives at the crease then only six will do.

Then there's the real stonewaller, girls, he knows what he's about;
And if you let him settle in, it's hard to get him out!
We come now to the last man, I hope this will not shock,
He doesn't mind if he's last man in, as long as he gets a knock.

So, darlings, do be careful, and be well warned by me:
Never trust a cricketer, whoever he may be.
And watch the wicket-keeper, girls, he's full of flair and dash;
And if you raise your heel, he'll whip them off in a flash.

If you take the field with the captain, you had better know the score;
Or he'll have you in positions that you never knew before!
The cricket commentator is a nasty sort of bloke,
He watches all the action and describes it stroke by stroke.

Even the kindly umpire, who looks friendly as a pup;
You'll quickly find you've had it, when he puts his finger up!
So, darlings, please remember and repeat it after me:

Mkt Drayton
The nasty weather has not shown itself yet, just a shower and a bit of a breeze, but we've tied everything down and got the covers on, just in case. Our next section contains Woodseaves, which is a long, deep, wooded cutting renowned for landslips and fallen trees so it seems prudent to stay here for the day. A kind person next to the cut here has BT Fon so, with my aerial, I can do some updates etc., thanks J&S.
How many bones are there in a normal adult body?
Archimedes, the well known truth-seeker,
Jumping out of his bath, cried "Eureka!"
He ran half a mile,
Wearing only a smile,
And became the very first streaker.
Shebdon Bank
All the locks (5) in our favour and we only met one boat in Woodseaves cutting, so a good trip. Dawn has taken the aft cover over to Tony at Bethsaida, to have some stitching redone and get some bungee rubber for the tie downs. The wind is gusting quite strongly, but no rain - so far.
Wheaton Aston
Cover's all nicely stitched up and we've got loads of bungee rubber - that'll pass an hour away making new tie downs. This morning we left at day break and it stayed dry until we got here at 10.30 and then started with the odd drop after we'd moored up. Dawn gave the "lounge" a good clean out while we were travelling and emptied all the lockers so that she could move them to clean behind; I feel guilty coming in wearing shoes!
Wheaton Aston
05.00 - We had a stroke of luck yesterday, I suppose you could call it a windfall; a ruddy great branch had split off an apple tree and landed half in the water - our diet has now changed from blackberry and apple crumble to apple and blackberry crumble. Bill, off the cruiser Baloo, phoned to say that they were on the Severn and heading for Tewkesbury, where they plan to spend the night. We haven't heard from Ami Bovard, so don't know if we are on a collision course or if they've gone up the T&M. I don't know how far we'll get today, take it as it comes; we've got one lock here, after we've filled and emptied, and then it's a clear run to Autherley and the junction with the Staffs and Worcs.
Cross Green, Staffs & Worcs
15.00 - Another fine run; we got tied up here and it was just after twelve when we'd had our showers. The pub here does good grub, so it would have been daft not to have lunch there; I had beef pie and Dawn the fish pie and it was reet grand.
Cross Green
05.00 - A peaceful night and no sounds of rain, even though it's forecast. All being well we are heading for Penkridge today but if the weather turns we can always stop at Gailey. There are some damsons on the opposite bank to us here and I might pole us across there before starting the engine and setting off this morning; seems a shame to waste them.
16.00 - We gave the damsons a miss, because the tree was in someone's back garden. Seven miles and five locks today and Dawn's done a bit of shopping here to top up the cupboards; we should be back at the marina in a couple of days.
An old man lay reclined across three seats in the movie theatre.
When the usher came by and noticed this, he whispered to the old man, "I'm sorry sir, but you're only allowed one seat."
The old man mumbled something but didn't budge. The usher became more impatient.
"Sir, if you don't get up,, I'm going to have to call the manager."
This time, the old man just groaned. The usher marched briskly back up the aisle. In a moment, he returned with the manager.
Together, the two of them tried a number of times to move the disheveled old man, but with no success. Finally, they summoned the police.
The Police officer surveyed the situation briefly and asked, "All right then, sir, what's your name?"
"Fred," the old man moaned.
"Thank you, Fred. Now, where are you from?" asked the policeman.
With terrible pain in his voice, and without moving a muscle, Fred moaned, "The balcony..."
Theatre Seats For Seniors
Trent & Mersey, Gt Haywood
Dawn popped to the post office to post a letter to Mum, before we left Penkridge this morning. It was mild with no sign of rain, so we kept plodding on and got here just after two - 11 miles and 7 locks. Housekeeping has already dashed off with a load of washing for the marina's machine.
Gt Haywood
I think all the washing was done yesterday; I was busy "playing" on my laptop. What management has got planned for today I don't know, but I reckon we're staying here over the weekend.
Everything that can be washed, has been washed, so we've come to the new moorings at Rugeley aqueduct. As soon as we had tied up, the painting crew got a layer of blue gloss on the starboard gunwales; the bank is quite low here and she was able to paint without kneeling down. The sun came onto the new paint about an hour after it was finished so we couldn't have timed it better. Tomorrow, the idea is to moor in the town and do a bit of shopping and then we can paint t'other side or come back here and do it.
We spoke to Trevor last night and are hoping to meet up with him and Glenda soon; they are over from France and have a list of things to do and people to visit.

Regrettably I've overdone my dongle allowance and am writing this in anticipation of finding a Fon hotspot to shoot it up. If it's all a bit late, I apologise.
Gt Haywood
All went as planned and we've got shiny gunwales and full cupboards again. If the weather looks fair, we're going to have a trip to Stone tomorrow.
Twas a beautiful morning and lots of boaters had the same idea; we had to go through all the locks in Stone before we could find a mooring, but we're here now.
I've just had a date for seeing the knee chap - Oct 10th, be good if he can come up with some way for me to straighten my leg properly.
Gt Haywood
Yesterday we dropped down three locks and moored in the middle of Stone, to take the trolley for a walk; it actually had two walks, because head of finance forgot her purse. After stowing all the goodies, we left Stone and tied up out in the sticks above Bridge 84.
The wind got up overnight and we were rocked about a bit, but by 07.00, when we left the mooring, it had eased and we had a good trip back here to the marina.
Rugeley B67
It's still gusting a bit but no rain as yet.
Last night was spent in the marina and, after filling and emptying, we had a potter down here this morning to see what Aldi has to offer. I think we'll stay around Rugeley for the night and head back to the marina tomorrow.