I had not realised I'd failed to close off last year's cruise, so a brief (you must be joking its Ian writing!) resume of why this is our last cruise. I'm also on a crusade to get everyone to wear a lifejacket when working a boat.....read on to find out why.
|Wear a life jacket|
Last year as we cruised to Trent Lock on the T&M I ran an incredibly high temperature, I had got a urine infection. Yes I was better the following day when I had the gigantic mixed grill I pictured but two days later when we got to Burton on Trent I walked to the hospital to get some pills, only to be told that generally men don't get them, its a female speciality, largely because of how we are constructed. The doc gave me a pretty thorough going over before he gave me some pills, but wanted me to get to a hospital to find the results of the culture tests a week later.......I wasn't sure how I would.
Back to Lily, Carol thought I'd eloped I'd been so long. Next day Barry & Cathy on Goldie drew alongside for coffee and cake, gluten free for Cathy, & I was due a test later in the month to see if I had developed this problem too!!! Two days later or so we had done the necessary at the CRT facilities at Fradley and Carol had moved Lily into the junction lock. I'd shut the bottom gates and walked to the top paddles when she called me to say one of the gates had opened. I turned to go and close it and disappeared from view and didn't respond to her calls.
Horrified she clambered on the the roof of Lily (a first for her) and then climbed the loft ladder (another first) and found me completely collapsed by the top gate! I had rather cleverly collapsed into the recovery position and had a pulse, but Lily was moving out the lock! Fortunately a car stopped alongside me on the road & asked if he could help and as he was a P.C. he had pretty good First Aid knowledge & could look after me whilst she sorted out Lily, and the landlady of the pub saw what was going on and volunteered to call an ambulance, and then a chap moored below the lock said he'd sort Lily out & look after her, letting Carol become a nurse again.
Well Burton on Trent hospital were fantastic, I had a night in coronary care, had test after test, including an MRI scan on my head, no stroke but the remnants of my brain showed up. Then Carol remembered I had previously been found to have kinks in my carotid arteries abut 10 years before, so it became pretty obvious I'd collapsed because I'd turned my head too far/fast & cut off the blood supply to my enfeebled brain.
The upshot was I had loads more tests over the following month at Burton but decided we'd like to get Lily back to Debdale, but how? Wonderful Barry & Cathy came along, asked what was amiss and immediately volunteered to amend their planned cruise and work us through the locks up to Watford. I donned a foam collar to prevent me from turning my head too fast and I started wearing my lifejacket all the time we cruise. Whilst the canal may only be 3ft deep but if you are dead to the world you can't put your feet down to stand up & your mouth will remain under the water......hence the lifejackets.
( A picture of our saviours will follow but it is in my old computer....did I tell you I hate Windows 8!)
Our immense thanks to Barry & Cathy for helping us home and to all the others who helped, and we have met them all this year. The lifejacket point has very topical importance this week following the death of a newly retired boater in the Harecastle tunnel. I spoke to the tunnel keepers on Sunday as we waited to pass through but as yet they don't know how he ended up in the water. However it is pretty certain that had he been wearing a lifejacket even if he'd fallen in because of a stroke he'd have floated and his wife would have been able to see him. Fellow Boaters please think about this!
OK after we'd done the doctor bits I was allowed on on a probationary cruise and we went to Oxford to pay a visit to our grandson who had just started his Architecture course, and I pretty well behaved. I don't step over from one open gate to open the other one, I use my boat hook instead to push it open or pull it shut. Because of me passing the test we are on a cruise to cover what we failed to do in 2013, ie Liverpool again and also the Macc which we've never done plus some other new bits before we stop. We might stop sooner than we actually want as Lily is listed on Apolloduck.com and if we find a buyer we will work to accommodate our buyer.
Tuesday May 6th 2014
|Carol ready for the off, garden planted|
So we set off with freshly polished paintwork, newly blacked bottom and really looking pretty lovely, or at least Carol & Lily were, and it was sunny & warmish as we left Debdale. Nothing special on our cruise to Watford except about 24 hours after we had unhooked from the mains we had an alarm squealing as we stirred on our second day. Urgent looking to see what it was, until I remembered our alarm is linked to the mains input when we are at Debdale so we know when the mains has tripped out, which is far from unusual and I've even rung the boatyard from Majorca before now to get them to sort out our power, saving ruined fridge & freezer. I needed to change it to battery power, problem solved!
|Lily at Bottom of Foxton before our last trip up with her|
Thurs 8th May we had arrived in Braunston the evening before having had several showery interludes on the way on Wednesday, but this morning I got rather wet walking to the shop to get Carol's newspaper and a few other little bits, It eased off by late morning but we had drizzly interludes on our way to Rugby, and over the next several days we didn't travel far each day but just enjoyed changes in the scenery.
|Lovely Spring view on Leicester Summit|
We also had a friend join us for supper in Polesworth on a lovely evening and the weather had got a bit warmer, in fact we didn't cruise on a lovely day as we were in Tamworth on Wednesday 14th and did an Orange Wednesday to watch Love Punch which we great;y enjoyed, sad people that we are! Whilst in Tamworth I walked to the rail station to get tickets to get us back to Narborough for the funeral of a long standing friend who had sadly been reduced to a shell of his former self by Vascular Altzheimers, it was a pretty long walk.
On to Fradley to give thanks to the landlady of The Swan and on to Gt Haywood where we happened upon the chap who sorted Lily out for Carol.
|I visited Shugborough whilst at Gt Haywood|
|Lovely gardens and great time to view|
We then had a family Sunday 18th on a fortunately fabulous day so that our niece, her husband & their two lively youngsters were able to see the canals at their best.
|Mark brought Lily into a lock for first time|
|James helped me with steering|
|Natasha and Sophia on front deck as the lock filled|
|Our Radio Leicester umbrella comes in handy|
We moored alongside Festival Park in Stoke for a couple of nights, and I really put the boat out for our anniversary on 24th as we went to the cinema. The weather was not good so it kept us out of the rain but isn't it typical that there really wasn't anything we wanted to watch, though Superman was OK. The next day, Sunday, we reached Harecastle and I quizzed the tunnel keeper about a fatality in the tunnel on 20th when a chap disappeared of the stern of his boat inside it whilst his wife was below comforting their child who was disturbed by the darkness. There are all sorts of stories going around about it, but the keeper said it will be best to wait for the inquest.
|Carol did a bit of gardening waiting for our turn through Harecastle|
The forecast for Sunday was forecast to be wet but it was OK in the morning but was tippling down as we exited the tunnel! I confess to making a terrible hash of turning into the Macc, but after a bit of a wait we got through the stop lock before mooring at Scholar Green as the weather improved. I booked into the for dinner after asking a few locals if the food was good, our Nicholson says it is, but it is 15 years old!! They assured us it was and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal after we'd watched the Monaco GP.
|Sunny morning at Scholar Green|
|Boseley Locks, but what is off side handrail for?|
Wednesday 29th May and it had rained heavily overnight and was pouring as we got up, hoping D&L would see sense and leave it to us, but bless them around 9.30 they appeared on the towpath having driven through sluicing rain on their way. Almost by a miracle the rain eased to a light drizzle and though it was occasionally a bit heavier, it did not warrant all the waterproof clothing we were wearing. I was so glad to have them as the locks have a pair top gates but no foot board and nothing for me to use my boathook on the operate the off-side gate with from the towpath side. Without them I would have had to keep walking to and fro each time! We had to run a bit of water down and had to wait for a few other boats but we were out of the top in 2 hours, filling with water and using the other services and then having some of Carol's delicious soup and sandwiches for lunch.
|Rain easing towards the top|
|Very crowded moorings, it took ages to fit Lily in!|
|Carol's garden is progressing but better weather would help|
Just an aside (yes another!). I'd tried to buy our tickets in Stoke on Friday but a bit before I got to the booking office their reservation system had gone down. I had found an option that would have cost us just over £70 for the two journeys, though a return ticket was nearly double this!! I went to book in Congleton, but had looked up the prices before I went to find it would cost us around £110 for the two journeys, but then I noticed the trip down traveling First Class would only cost £3 more, though returning first class was about £20 extra. We have opted for this, but how do they come up with their prices??!!
So in 3 weeks of cruising we have slogged our way 140miles and 76 locks, all but 6 of these were narrow.....I'm exhausted!