Friday 17th September 2010
Weather blustery but sunny spells – in fact not bad at all!
First job this morning after sending the boys off having expressed their thanks to Karen and her team at Canal Cruising was to get them to have a look at my Rudder/Tiller connections! Learned something
everyday as they say – I now know how they join and what to do to make a more secure fix for the future – it something which can happen at any time – particularly if you have a bash with something on the bottom of the canal!
Howard and Hillary saw me through the two locks in Stone before making their way home and then “Mum” and I started our long run down to the “Plum Pudding” at Armitage (everyone telling me that Rugeley was ok to visit but perhaps not so secure at night). This meant a bit of a vague instruction for the kayaks as it meant a 14 mile day for them and they stress if they have more than twelve. Only five or six locks though and pretty evenly spread out but a steady 5 hours on the boat down through Great and Little Haywood. Pretty uneventful – apart from regular cuppas from my crew – very welcome!
Really surprised however that much of this section – and Rugeley especially was badly maintained in terms of towpath and bank-side cut, serious reed problems and overhanging trees. On the journey so far I had been impressed in general that this aspect of BW’s commitment had be noticeably better but not here. The canal is quite narrow in places in any case – wouldn’t fancy cruising much of it on busy summer days – particularly with less experienced helmsmen about.
This was confirmed later when we caught up with the guy who had arrived in Armitage and camped in “The Spode Cottage awaiting our arrival. I got some stick about the distance that had had to paddle and the fact they I tell them what bridge to stop at – forgetting that on this stretch the are loads of new ones over the years which are numbers in such a way that letters are added to ones which already existed. Their planning is partly by counting down the bridges – they then realised that they had done a lot more than I had said – oops – some Aussie expletives were about! Once there I was to meet Lita, a friend of Justin and Jane who was to whisk them all off to stay at hers as we have no support boat until next Tuesday. This meant my first night on my own for a week – quite a strange feeling!
The Plum Puddings food was good, and although it was very quiet for a Friday night they had live entertainment from a quite brilliant Jazz style singer (sorry forgot his name!). And no I didnt start up my own floating cafe for the night!