On 10th June we met up with Soozie and Dave for lunch close to where they have moorings. The next day our four boats set off for Middlewich festival. We did two long days (long for me but normal for Christine 😀) and landed up mooring above Kings Lock. On our way we came across a woman whose partner had slipped at a lock and been carted off to hospital. She came over to have a gin and tonic with us. This is a new thing that Christine has implemented since she returned from the BCN Challenge, and a very good thing it is too. When hubby returned he had his arm plastered and strapped as he had broken his elbow. We spent the next day exploring Northwich and the day after Sandbach, both places new to me and both nice, smallish towns. I bought a velvet jacket in a charity shop in Northwich that will replace the one I used to wear in the '70s! Yet another visit to a hospital! This time it was Steve who has a rescue dog which gave him a nip. The festival really starts on Thursday evening and we went to the boaters' supper and then to the Narrowboat to see Pastry Shoes. On Friday I put up bunting on Olivia. As it was my first attempt at this I did wonder if my mop and a bit of broken fishing rod would suffice but with some baling string and insulation tape it did stay up all weekend. We went to look at all the trading boats and also an enterprising person has bought an old bus and somehow is managing to sell all items for £1 (or a pand, according to Lorraine). I got a rather nice jacket. We found a folk session going on in the Boar's Head and stayed there for the rest of the evening. This festival is called FAB (for folk and boat) and although it is FABulous with multiple sessions going on, I would claim that many are not folk. However, it gives a platform for many singer/songwriters and there was some Morris dancing on the Saturday. Obviously we were lucky with the weather if 30+ degrees is lucky. One of my favourite sessions was by Bradford street band, the Peace Artistes.
After the festival the four boats went their separate ways. I headed up through Anderton, took a side run down to Runcorn just to say I have been there and then onto Lymm where there is a historic boat day to rival Braunston. The main difference being that some of these are huge wide beams. As per usual, Olivia has a slight oil leak which I am trying to get fixed but other than that all is fine and dandy on the good ship Olivia. Apologies for lack of photos but my technology is not very compatible. Must get that sorted.
I have just nipped in to the library in Hanley where I am allowed a free half hour :-). I arrived here on Wednesday after delays caused by incessant rain and very windy wind. What is there to do in SoT I asked myself? and then took myself off to pick up leaflets, a habit of mine, when in land where "there be dragons". I went looking for the Film Theatre at the uni so that I knew where it was, for the next night they were showing "Their Finest" and I had thus far missed all its showings elsewhere. When I arrived I discovered that there was to be a public lecture by Wayne Hemingway starting in half an hours time. This gave me just enough time to view the graduate students photography/textiles/arty stuff, and very good it was too. Wayne gave an overview of his life: where he came from, how he started out, the chances he and his wife Gerra took and where he is now (erm, wealthy and having fun with his designs). Thursday was rainy so I went to afternoon silver screen (Moonlight, not really my cup of tea, although always nice to get a free cup of tea - I didn't bother with the biscuit). Found Tesco for some supplies then back to Olivia for a quick bite to eat and out to the Film Theatre as planned. Walking home at 10pm with it still light was great. Today I booked a ticket for the New Vic in Newcastle upon Lyme as they are showing Anna of the Five Towns tonight. A local play by Arnold Bennett. I visited Emma Bridgewater's Factory as they have a Literary Festival Thursday through to Saturday and I couldn't find the programme anywhere else. Blast, last night was Alexander Armstrong! Would have liked to see him. Not sure whether I will get to any of the other authors/speakers but maybe. I have spent the last couple of hours in the Potteries Museum until I hit ceramics overload. They have other things too, the artworks are good. Anyway, I only have 10 minutes left on my internet so must go and check a couple of other things before time runs out.
I have completed my first proper week's cruising and it has been good fun despite a couple of very wet days. I started out from Tamworth after having a nice walk along the River Tame and around the castle and the park there. I moved on up to Fradley village and the next day I went to visit the National Memorial Arboretum, because I had never been there despite passing this way two or three times. It is so much bigger than I imagined and really pleasant to walk around. The central memorial is stunning. I am sure it is a peaceful place for those who have lost someone through hostilities. The next morning I met one of my single handing boater friends on her way down to Gloucester via Braunston and Hatton and the River Avon. Sounds like one to put in my schedule for another year. I am, at the moment, on canals which I have done before so I tried to stop at places I like and hence I moored at Great Haywood where I bumped into another of my single handing boater friends!! Only a short hop the next day, stopping at Weston and from there onto Stone, where I met one of the canal traders, Lorraine that I had bought a hat from at the floating market. I also just missed Phil and Jackie whom I have known since I first got the boat. They left early before I had surfaced. I have tried to walk over the 10,000 steps recommended but some days I couldn't quite make it. Looking back though I averaged 10,000 a day so that's ok then.
I started out from Braunston a few weeks ago but I always make a slow, considered start as I work out what needs fixing or updating before the main event. I also had a couple of distractions as I met up with Heather in her beautifully newly painted boat for a short trip and a pub meal. Her boat now sports fabulous artwork by Andy Russell in the style of Steampunk iconography. I omitted to take pictures but if you see a boat emblazoned with cogs, clocks, compasses and so forth it will be Heather. The next day we picked up Tench and took her from Sutton Stop to Rugby where she was making her way down to London for this: Alarum Theatre's recreation of the Idle Womens' journey from London to Birmingham and back.
Back to odd jobs, I found I had a leaking kitchen tap and was very pleased to fix it myself using O rings, especially after two hardware shops could not figure out what was needed. The tap is from the 1980s which was probably before the shop assistants were born!! I am also about ready to install new deckboards courtesy of my son, Tom, who was able to source some Buffalo Board, cut it to size and fit a lifting ring. I will try to put up before and after photos but be assured that the old boards were well past their use by date. Anyway I am currently heading North through Nuneaton, Atherstone, Tamworth and shortly arriving somewhere around Stoke on Trent. Although I travelled this way in 2013 I have not done Heartbreak Hill since 2008 so that should be fun.
I haven't seen her in real life yet, that treat is on Saturday. Here is a taster:
The window wall will separate the bed area from the living area and is something I have planned for ages. I bought the stained glass, from Weedon Antiques Village, about five years ago!! I have to save up to replace the deckboards now as they look really scruffy.
I spent another day with Luke in Henley followed by a meal in Wargrave. The next day we both headed to Sonning as Luke decided to take The Record Deck down the Kennet and Avon for the first time. I then continued up river stopping at Pangbourne meadows, in the trees above Day's lock, Abingdon, Opposite Christchurch meadows, Oxford and Osney Bridge, Oxford.
I caught up with Heather at Abingdon and we spent a good few days indulging in their Open Heritage events. We met up with Gill who moored near us in her beautiful wooden boat and went to visit Nuneham estate. We also walked the boundaries of medieval Abingdon in the company of the town crier. At Oxford, I spent a couple of hours at the Pitt Rivers museum which I had failed to get to on previous visits. What an interesting place. I had only bought a month licence for the river so had to leave at Oxford. I will need to get back to go up to Lechlade another time.