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Wolseley to Great Haywood Junction (2 miles, 2 locks)

The day started with a beautiful sunrise and we knew we were going to be busy, for today we were going to bottom the butty!  
Richard wasn't happy with the way the butty was towing and steering (not me the operator to blame, this time!)  The ballast was all up front as we had used up heavy things in the back cabin making the weight wrong.  As I am considerably narrower than his lordship, so I told him that I would go into the top hatch of the bow compartment and pass him the 15 or so bags of coal, for redistribution  towards the stern...this was fine but wow did I need a scrub afterwards!
We sorted the rest of the butty out making a huge rubbish pile, including the jeans pictured above (they did have lots of holes in anyway!).  
A large toad came across our mooring during the day and just leisurely wandered to the water.  Scooby took some shouting at again as he made a lurch for it. Normally 1 word from Richard, the dog does as he is told!
When all was put away, we visited the local garden centre at Wolseley and bought some bits for the garden (roofboxes in boaty speak).
Yesterday we set off for Great Haywood, and the spectacular journey past Shugborough Hall.
We moored briefly before the lock for a drink and then went through, ( strange some people moan when we tell them we have a butty waiting in the mouth of the lock and do they mind waiting, yet here we had lots of help from other boaters here,and everyone was patient while we pulled it in and out ),   past the tearooms and moored up near to the junction.  The hope was that we would be able to open the shop, but we also needed water before we turned off up the Stafford/Worcester canal for the Canal World Discussion Forum banter at Calf Heath next weekend.

Alrewas to Wolseley (11 miles, 8 locks)

We decided to hit Fradley before anyone would even think about it, so set off as dawn broke.  Predictably a boat was coming down already, but that meant the locks would be in our favour.
With the modus operandi changed, by getting the butty into the entrance of each lock as the big boat goes in, everything seemed to be working well!
4 locks down and as planned, we pulled around another boat to moor for water outside Fradley BW services. After an hour of waiting for the water tank to fill,  we gave it up as a dead loss, with the hope of filling up later in the journey.  I went to set up the lock on the junction, whilst Richard steered the boats in.  The dog, however, had other plans, as Richard pulled off, the dog had decided to disembark and sunbath on the path, oblivious to everything!
Opening the lock gates, I realised Richard was agitated about something, so ran down to be greeted with a sheepish Scooby, being midfuss by some passers by!  As he gets older, he gets more cantankerous!
Fradley, thankfully, out of the way, as it was starting to get busy, we continued straight on on the T & M for Woodend, totally beautiful stretch and moored up at Kings Bromley for the night.
2 loads of washing swung in the sunshine for the rest of the day and Richard's jumper neared it's completion....
Rugeley power station!  Should I be excited about this?   Apparently so, so there you have it!

Bread deficit was the issue, so we moored at peaceful Handsacre and walked into the village to find a small shop,  but ended up asking a randum person, as we couldn't find a village centre etc typical!
For future reference we clocked the chip shop.
I do think this part of the T & M is lovely, but very narrow and windy and there is always oncoming traffic when you least expect it!  People cannot comprehend that we are towing another boat, nearly as long as the motor and need perhaps a little more room if they change their mind ie stopping and getting out of the way!  So we decided that people in this region can be rude and inconsiderate, but Richard controlled himself being courteous in the face of pure stupidity, I couldn't ask for more!
Armitage tunnel was a challenge as it is very narrow and winds around the rocks for a stretch on exiting, which is one way traffic.  A boat was coming behind us, but we carried on at our slow pace, not ruffled by his need to 'press on'!
He passed us at the water point outside very beautiful Spode House, 'You are getting water then?'  - I was very polite back, not 'dur I am on the water point!

Rugeley was our next port of call in this 'hectic' day!  A small shop in Morrisons and a quick spend in the town (a hat for the forum banter!) and we were back to the boat.  The gardens are wonderful in Rugeley, leading down to the canal, pure luxury in my view, having a garden overlooking and accessing a historic canal!

Leaving the town, a right angle of a turn leads the boater over Brindley's Trent Aqueduct with pumping station above, gently crossing over the river Trent beneath.

As the sun shone, we moored up, (Kennet and Avon style!3 foot draft on the big boat means we can't get in to the shallow side,so front in, bum sticking out!) at bridge 69 outside Colwich and got the chairs out!

Wychnor to Alrewas (1 mile, 1 lock)

Big journey to Alrewas! Got blown sideways on the butty, on the approach to the lock as I just didn't manage to get off in time and pull into the side!  Richard ballet danced onto the roof of the butty to grab the centre line and saved me!
We moored up in a relatively empty Alrewas, (well it is March!), but we have managed to open the stall each afternoon as the sun has come out and had a really positive response.

I always love mooring here as it is chocolate box pretty with thatched cottages and the windy canal weaving through it.
Yesterday morning, we walked to the National Memorial Arboretum on the outskirts of the village, after only discovering how close it was days before.
A very sombre experience, but we managed to find out about the experiences of the many prisoners of the Japanese slave labour building of the Burma railroad.  In particular, we found Richard's Great Uncle's name on the list of those who died over there.
This is a section of the actual railroad on display at the Arboretum.

There were many other memorials dedicated to different conflicts,  causes etc, so it really was a moving visit, but we both thought it was something everyone needed to see, especially politicians!

Stenson to Wychnor lock (12 miles, 5 locks)

Monday morning, we moved off from Stenson lock, taking a leisurely, brief journey to south Derbyshire village of Willington.  Here we filled the water tank, dealt with the 'bucket and chuck it' and rubbish.  The joys of living aboard!
After a quick shop, we untied the ropes and carried on a couple of miles and moored in the noisiest place we could find being Eggington, alongside the A38.  Obviously we weren't thinking about the traffic noise at the time, but we wanted some time to do some jobs on the butty and make some more bits for the stall.
Finished the stool and Richard varnished it this morning.  We both had quite a productive couple of days making an awning for the stall and Richard making fenders!
This morning, the weather was beautiful as we sailed through Stretton and then the first single lock on the T & M at Burton on Trent.  This would mean we would have to separate the boats each time we reached a lock and do them both twice!  Good exercise, no need for a run these days!

Tatenhill lock, really picturesque and quiet from the A38 for a while!
This bridge before Barton Turns, is really narrow and was quite a challenge to get through unscathed, good job the fenders were up else we could have got wedged!
The Scoob loves the towpath, chasing the smells and racing along ahead of us!
Finally tonight we moored at Wychnor lock (near Alrewas), where Richard could play with the 'Sunset' setting on his camera....

Swarkestone to Stenson (3 miles, 1 lock)

A short trip from Swarkestone to Stenson took us a sleepy, windy route through scenic countryside, with me on the butty tiller and Richard on the big boat steering.
Bridge 18 woke us up, though, as the deep drafted motor boat lifted up about a foot out of the water as it negotiated a large object under the water.  We have no clue what it was, perhaps a coping stone off the bridge, the main thing was it didn't go near the prop!

We moored up after going through the deepest lock on the T & M at Stenson, quite close to the lock approach in order that we could open the butty shop the next day.
I took all day, virtually, pricing up items and setting up a display, but sold a few small items and was properly impressed with Day 1!
Sunday was a bit of a washout but came good in the end, with the fender situation being depleted severely! That'll keep Richard busy the next few days, as we move off for a good mooring sight for the following weekend's trading.

Sawley to Swarkestone (7 miles, 4 locks)

Yesterday we left Sawley cut in thick fog for the Trent and Mersey canal.  We had stowed the anchor (always get this out ready in case of incidents on the river!) and new  gas bottle and drifted slowly out of the relative safety of the cut for the junction of Derwent mouth the Trent and the start of the T & M canal.
The first double lock was empty and seemed so easy to navigate compared with the huge river locks.

I jumped on the tiller on the butty as we approached Shardlow and as I have called it 'carnage corner' - an 's' bend at the entrance to the village, but luckily without incident.  At this time in the morning there was no one about, what a shame as we navigated through beautifully and didn't hit a thing!
This is Swarkestone lock, very deep and very heavy gates.  When we arrived the lock was empty and some helpful bystanders opened the gates for us.  Not being a lover of heights, I hesitantly scaled the ladder leaving Richard in charge of the boats.  An old friend from Chapel Hill had moored his boat there, so we chatted for a while once we had moored the boats.

A lot has changed at this end of Derby since last we came through.  A short walk along the old Derby canal now opens out into a housing estate and shopping complex including doctor's surgery , chip shop (sampled - very nice!) and convenience store.  A helpful pleasant surprise for boaters as this stretch of the T & M is lacking in shops, the next one is Asda at Sinfin!
It will be amazing when the restoration is complete on the Derby canal, apparently progress is good on the planning side, then need to get those shovels out!  The canal itself is still visible, just some 60 year old trees to dig up and we're away, and some relocating work where the town centre now stands, but still optimistic for it's opening in our lifetimes!

Newark to Sawley (35 miles, 11 locks)

Gunthorpe Trent Hills
We pushed on through all the unmanned large locks on the non tidal Trent.  (Normally, there is a seasonal lock keeper on duty) Operating these large locks meant that Richard stayed on the boat holding the boats steady, whilst I slowly filled each one we came to without creating a wash to drown him!

We moored for the night at Stoke Lock, as it is so picturesque.

The weather had been beautiful so we decided to stay another day and just do nothing (which  includes painting items for my stall and Richard busy doing lots of technical things to the boats!)  Leaving Scoob on the boat (knackered legs)  we took a long walk exploring the adjoining nature reserve and another lovely viaduct, just look at all those arches! 

An early start this morning took us through Holme Pierrepoint lock and then into Nottingham itself.  We kept the boats breasted up and it worked really well until we encountered narrow bridge holes, but no damage done. 

Good job Scoob was steering!  

Tonight we breathed a sigh (relief because it is a large river, but fondness as it is beautiful) as we left the Trent for a while to moor at Sawley for a couple of days and get some jobs done on the butty, so that it can be used as a floating shop, when we go onto the Trent and Mersey canal.
In the meantime I need to paint else I'll have nothing to sell.....

Saxilby to Newark (26 miles, 3 locks)

Collected our last solar panel via the train from Saxilby and Richard installed it yesterday at Torksey, whilst we waited for the spring tide on the tidal Trent today, Saturday.

So total wattage now is 320 which gives us a maximum ampage depending on the sunshine obviously of around 20amps.  This is enough to enable us to watch tv and have lights on in the evening when we are moored, without us worrying too much the following day about running the engine if we don't want too.  The batteries soon recover the next day with 4 panels onboard.

This morning we witnessed the power of the spring tide aigor coming into Torksey lock and bashing the gates raising the water level instantly by about 2 feet.  Quite a sight!  The lock was very quickly up to the level to let us through onto the Trent from the Fossdyke Navigation and pushed us nearly all the way to Cromwell lock.
Fledborough Railway Viaduct passes over the Trent at High Marnham.

We passed through Cromwell lock and decided to carry on to Newark, although the weather was quite chilly,   Roll on summer.

Leaving Bardney for a while...(13 miles and 1 lock)

We had hoped for a good early start today, but the heavens opened and the wind howled!  Eventually we tiptoed off our mooring with the butty behind on cross straps headed for Lincoln.
Unfortunately, the butty had other ideas as the wind pushed it over the river making progress slow.  Richard swapped the straps over for tried and tested versions which seemed to work better but still the butty crabbed.
Arriving at Lincoln, we went through Stamp End lock with no trouble, pulling the butty alongside in order to fit in.  It was still very cold and windy but at least it had stopped drizzling!

Coming through the Glory Hole Richard spoke to the Police diving team, narrowly avoiding them as he aimed the boats around the bend.  Didn't look like they were looking for anyone(thankfully!), just training and they passed us later as we continued on towards Saxilby.
I jumped back on the boat as Richard came through into Brayford Pool.  Major construction works were going on in the Pool where the old Harbourmaster office used to be, so that will be interesting to see in a couple of months when we return for the South Kyme Regatta.
On the final leg before Saxilby, Richard decided to go on the tiller on the butty whilst I steered the big boat, which involved a balletdance along the roof planks on the butty to the stern.  He steered for a while, but then tied up the rudder so it could not crab and it worked a treat for the remainder .
We moored up in the peaceful village of Saxilby, ready to eat the jacket potatoes which had cooked on our old Lister all day, beautiful!

Prelude to the spring tour 2012

Only a few more sleeps to setting off on our spring cruise!
The past few days we have been preparing for our sailing on Wednesday this week for our spring tour around the system.  Weather has been the biggest item on the priority list; if it's too windy or wet we will sit still a little longer.  Good thing the forecast has been optimistic for the weekend when our booking to go through the lock onto the tidal Trent is scheduled.  Due to the deep draft of our hull, and the fact that we have the butty to pull, we need as much help as we can to get 'up river' with the tide in time to get into Cromwell lock and relative sanctury!

Today we took our much loved little car to the auction and gained a grateful lift back (via KFC) back home to Bardney with  Richard's parents.  Obviously, we have no need of a vehicle for the next 6 months, but we will start again in September with a new small engine car.
The solar panel we ordered hasn't arrived yet, but not a problem, we will get it soon to complete the team (4 @ 80watts each) and give us a formidable amount of electric each day....