Finally, we’re making progress on our journey to wherever we’re going to be moored when we head to NZ. It’s so much easier without worrying about moving a car almost simultaneously! However, it’s not so easy to see Lisa and the boys without one. It’s a delicate balance of priorities.
On Monday we moved to Penkridge, and I managed a few locks in between calls. The rest of the time Barry ably single-handed. I was so sad to see Gailey Roundhouse shop and cafe closed. But not in the least surprised. It’s a small space so sparse change of physical distancing inside. I hope it re-opens at some point, it’s such a quaint and unique building. I also hope the lovely lady who lives here is healthy.
It was quite busy in the Staffs and Worcs Canal, with a mix of live-aboard’s and hire boats shuffling along. It is rather comforting to have company on the canals again, but often easy to forget there’s been a COVID challenge at all! We’re trying not to allow complacency to set in.
Family And Friends
Yesterday Lisa drive from Malpas with the boys for the afternoon. I’d discovered a nearby play park that we could walk to for the afternoon, followed by a soda and lime at The Boat. We were all together here almost one year ago when Kim was on board in August.
Today we continued to Great Haywood, unexpectedly meeting up with a few people we know and a couple who know us! We’d popped into Midlands Chandlers to check out their gas cookers, as we’re contemplating swapping our electric one. To run the oven currently we have to have the engine on at full revs. So I rarely use it. We managed to get let in to browse, but the chandlery isn’t re-opening, which is sad. They’re still doing online sales, and there’s a couple of other outlets around the country, but the loss of this one will weigh heavily on many boaters.
We just missed the lock afterwards, so I helped a single-hander down, and then a couple up. On entering the lock, the smiling chap looked up and said: “You’re Sandra!“. To which I replied “I am. Who are you?” He’s a blog reader, and we had a pleasant chat about boating and our impending NZ journey. Lovely to meet you both.
We continued to Stafford Boat Club, hoping to get a pump-out, but were sadly disappointed. On the bright side, we caught up with Mick on the Ironmonger’s Boat. Marianne was inside, we sent lots of love and hugs to her. Another boater we haven’t seen since last year at Bugsworth Basin is Annie from ‘Dreamcatcher’. Sadly we weren’t able to chat much as we had to get on to the next pump-out possibility and she was heading in the opposite direction. Such is our itinerant life on the canal; we know heaps of folks, but rarely get to connect properly.
I’d messaged some dear friends yesterday, who lived on a boat for around seven years. Pip and Sean reluctantly returned to land living in 2018, for a variety of reasons, and we’d not seen them since. The last time we did, was in Penkridge. I knew they lived nearby …
After exchanging a few updates via Messenger, I realised we’d be passing their residence this afternoon. Serendipitously, our stars aligned and Pip walked along the towpath to meet us. We walked together chatting and catching up on our respective lives for about ten minutes. Pip had to go to work (she and Sean have set up a gardening business which is prospering), and we had to continue to get to Great Haywood in time for a pump-out. But it was wonderful. I wanted to give her a huge hug, but love her to bits and wouldn’t wish to put her at risk.
Fish n Chips Again
This evening we’ve planned to meet up with some more dear friends. Helen and Andy from Wild Side Jams and Preserves. We’d previously arranged for our cruising itineraries to coincide on the River Weaver in June, but COVID-19 put paid to that. In fact, they’ve only recently begun cruising for a few weeks, car and boat hopping so Helen can return home to see her mum. Last time we saw them was in late January, and we all wanted to see each other before leaving the UK.
Thankfully we arrived at Anglo Welsh there, in time for a pump-out. Barry was appalled at the cost of it though, the most expensive we’ve EVER had! £25! Goodness gracious me. That’s incredible. Maybe they’re trying to make up for lost income? But I really don’t think that’s for boaters to recompense? Or maybe it’s always that expensive there? At least they were open and able to do it, which we’re extremely grateful for …
We couldn’t moor at Great Haywood, a long line of boats had beaten us to it! One of these was Skydance, who we’d known from Hurleston Junction lockdown. Barry had found their mooring chain a few weeks ago and hoped we’d bump into them. We beeped and returned it, though they’ve already replaced it with another. Now they have a spare … Also on the line was Sheila and Jim, from Flavours Afloat The Coffee Boat, so we had another quick catch-up.
We had no choice but to continue almost to Little Haywood, before banging in the pins to stop overnight. To be honest, we’d rather be somewhere a little quieter; we’re unused to such busy-ness as we’ve experienced the past couple of days!
We spotted an excellent spot for our evening brazier and Ronnie Sunshine fish n chips cooking. It’s a little chilly, but I’m certain the convivial company will warm us adequately.
Pictures of the evening’s camaraderie will I’m sure follow in the weekends’ blog!