The title of course refers to Caxton’s bow thruster.
We awoke at seven after a peaceful night near Little Haywood, got up and dressed and set off by half past. It didn’t take long before we reached Colwich lock and although we had to fill it first, we were soon down and through it. Sue then made some tea and toast for us to eat on the go. It was breezy but there was enough sunshine to keep us warm as we made our way south on the Trent and Mersey. We cruised past the pig farm at Taft Wharf before using the Brindley aqueduct which took us over the Trent and then into Rugeley. It is almost six years since we passed this way on our miserable four counties ring trip but strangely enough we moored in exactly the same spot as we did then. In 2008 we went shopping in Morrisons, today there is a newish Tesco on the towpath side of the canal so we took the opportunity to visit it and fill up the larder. However, despite filling the shopping trolley, the larder on Caxton is so big that it would take several trips like this to fill it!
We untied at half past ten and left our mooring, heading in the direction of Armitage. The weather, which had been benevolent, took a turn for the worse as we reached Spode Hall. We braved through the rain and by the time we had cleared Armitage “tunnel”, the rain had eased off so everything seemed alright again.
When we passed by the marina at King’s Bromley, the wind blew so fiercely across the canal that we were driving at 45 degrees to the bank! At the wharf, we met another boat near the bridge and as a result, the bow thruster, aka “Girlie Button” was pressed into service. What a marvellous device, for years I have sneered at boaters who have these but in less than 24 hours I have been converted!
Eventually we reached the first of the three locks that would take us down to Fradley and the junction with the Coventry canal. We were assisted at Wood End lock by a boater ready to ascend and experienced our first moment of “cratch envy”, Paul & Elaine had warned us of this when we bought the boat with its nine foot long well deck. I had to turn the next lock and then opened Middle lock for another ascending boat while Sue lingered in the shelter of Shade House lock. The wind by this time was ferocious but our passage downhill and the subsequent turn on to the Coventry canal was an absolute breeze, pun intended, thanks to Caxton’s bow thruster or girlie button for those without one.
After securing our mooring beyond the swing bridge we took a walk back to the junction, dumped our rubbish and headed for the famous pub, The Swan. The heavens opened just as we reached the old drinking hole so we took refuge and I managed a couple of pints of Stella to well behaved Sue’s glass of lime and soda.
The rain had stopped by the time we were ready to return to Caxton so we made the short trip and then settled down in the much envied cratch to eat dinner and then catch up on emails and internet stuff.
Sue tells me that tomorrow’s weather forecast is terrible as is the following three days but who can believe the Met Office and the BBC? Let’s face it, when it comes to weather forecasting, history is definitely not on their side!!!