Thursday 27 October
Tom woke up quite early on Monday morning; not massively unusual, but waking up early AND having a ‘lightbulb moment’ quite surprised me. Leigh could hear him chatting away so she dragged herself out of bed and wandered into the living area (that takes all of thirty seconds) to find out what was going on. ‘Who was that?’, she yawned. By now it was around nine-o-clock – so way past yawning time (in my opinion). Tom said that he had woken up with the realisation that V.P. is insured for breakdowns, so he’d been on the phone to the C.R.T. Insurance company (Canal and Rivers Trust).
Within twenty minutes an engineer had arrived and confirmed Tom’s suspicion that the gear cable had snapped. After a little to-ing and fro-ing the cable was replaced and we were on our way. Leigh and Tom had to laugh at themselves because when we had a problem – just after setting out in September – they limped V.P. into Alvechurch boatyard and paid to get her fixed! If they had used they brains back then, the repair would have been covered by the insurance policy. Even a simple canine like me knows that when you have a car you (usually) take out breakdown insurance; it’s the same with boats – but I guess my humans are not thinking ‘automatically’ yet. After all we’ve only had the N.B. six months. Yelp!
We spent Monday evening moored near Snugburys – home of the supercreamy and delicious Ice-Cream. Funnily enough we moored not far from where we were just a few weeks back. Once again we heard the evening cries of the tawny owls – it’s quite surreal being in the middle of nowhere and hearing the true cry of an owl as opposed to the twit-twoo of fiction.
Leigh made a decision on Monday evening to begin setting her alarm clock for seven-thirty am every single morning. This will enable her to do a couple of hours studying each day. Why? Well, for one, she is the worlds worst student in that she puts studying off for any old reason. In addition, she has become a bit of a night-owl over the last few years, yet her natural body rhythm is that of a morning person. She finds that when she studies or writes late into the evening (or early hours of the morning) the quality of her sleep is affected. True to her word she was up and studying from seven-thirty on Tuesday morning – in fact she was enjoying it so much that we were delayed in setting off for Audlem (our destination). Add to this delay the fact that Leigh had quite a few locks to work, plus we were following a solo-boater (so Leigh was double-locking – i.e. working the locks for him and then for Tom). Typically, we then met a couple who were stranded. Their ‘friends’ had cruised on ahead, leaving this couple windlass-less; Leigh offered to loan them her spare windlass, and to help them work the locks, which then took twice as long – as they had to get both boats through, one after the other. Hence, we arrived at Overwater Marina (near Audlem) at seven-o-clock and in the dark. Yelp!
Leigh worked from the boat on Wednesday but she had a pretty stressful morning due to hiccup with a Webinar. When technology doesn’t work Leigh feels unprofessional and stressed and frustrated and….Nuff said! After a quick-lunch she took a breather to clear her head. The four of us walked into Audlem – which appears to be a town that time forgot. It really is a very ‘England in the nineteen-fifties’ type of town and we loved it. Rather than walk you through it verbally, I took plenty of photos so that you can see it for yourself.
Note: I loved the name of the Butchers – so did Leigh, she studies language and the way it is used creatively and this just fits the bill!
Today has been pretty exhausting, particularly for Leigh I think. She was studying from seven-thirty until around nine-o-clock when she started working on emails and arranging upcoming meetings for her ‘other work’. Then around eleven thirty we set off for Market Drayton. Seven hours, twenty locks, a Farm Shop (where Leigh bought some Welsh Dragon sausage and black pudding), a Cake Shop (where she bought Lemon Drizzle and Almond Cakes) several Herons and a Kingfisher later, we moored on the cut and Leigh collapsed on the sofa for a couple of hours.
Although busy, it has been a wonderful day. We met some gorgeous people to chew the cud with whilst encountering so many locks. One little girl who was busy lock-labouring with her Dad asked Leigh if she was a ‘Real Lock-person’. Leigh laughed as she explained the ‘Lock Labourer’ badge she wears is ‘Just for fun’. When recounting the story to Tom, he pointed to his ‘Pirate’ badge and said, ‘Imagine if she had met me at a lock’. That’s quite funny actually – although he did work three of the twenty locks today whilst Leigh steered (a rare occurrence).
What really makes boating on the canals so enjoyable is the people you meet and surprises like the ‘unmanned shops’ with simple honesty boxes. It really does restore my canineconfidence in the human race.
P.S. Found a super everythingshop canal side at Audlem – Leigh found it amusing to leave us outside at this (relevant) parking spot!!