Thursday, 11 November 2010

That was another week (end) that was.

The week was soon round again and we were loading up the car and heading off to Minnow. We dropped one car off at Norton Canes and then drove up to the Red Lion at Great Chatwell where we met up with the gang for a bonfire, fireworks and food and the odd drink or two. As Dawn works until late on a Friday we did not get there until after the fireworks but went into the pub to join Dave Ray, Lucy Waldron, Sue Cawson, Mathew Burge and Kaz, Matt Parrott and Sarah, Mike Pinnock and Lawrence Williams and a good time was had by all. Back to Norbury and Minnow fire lit and to bed. A lazy start to the weekend's boating as we collected diesel, oil and water before we setting off. Every time we travel this way we always stop at Norbury and Dawn had said that she would like to stop in Gnosall and try out The Boat, and so the first days boating was only an hour and we tied up and went for a meal at The Boat.
The Sunday morning and we were off for 6.50am and had a good clear run down to cut end where as we approached the stop a boat came round the turn and into the stop lock. It was Rocket Ron and Brenda Withey after an exchange of greetings and words we were both on our way's Ron having warned me of low pounds up the Wton 21. As we made the turn at Aldersley Junction we were met by Horace Foster and Trish and passed them in the bottom pound again greetings, a few words and then farewells.
We hit the bottom lock at 11.59am and did not get to the top lock until 2.55pm thanks to a combination of very low pounds around locks 11 to 8 aggravated by four boats returning from the BCNS bonfire and travelling down the locks in convoy with two boats sharing pounds, the overspills were really running on the pounds below.
We pulled Minnow round into Broad Street basin and made use of the facilities for the night emptying bins, toilet and having a wash in red hot basin full of water. Another early start on the Monday waiting for day break at 6.40am heading off in pouring rain and really high winds. Just as we came out of Broad Street tunnel we picked up a blade full and throwing the Bolinder into reverse to clear it we were caught by the high winds which slewed Minnow across the cut and we ended up well and truly grounded right outside the new posh apartments. It took another twenty minutes with shafts, rocking and the Bolinder ahead/aster at full chatt before we eventually cleared and were off again to make the turn at Horseley fields Junction and head off along the Curly Wyrely. Apart from getting soaking wet and changing into dry clothes half way through the journey was quite dull and un eventfull apart from just after going through Little Bloxwich Bridge when Dawn, who was wearing my High viz work Jacket said she was going into the cabin for a warm. I handed her my empty mug off the cabin top and asked if she would make me a drink while she was down there. Off she trotted along the cabin gunnels with my cup in hand and as she got level with the engine 'ole door she suddenly disappeared into the inky black, freezing cold canal, and of cause I did not laugh (well not then anyway) As Dawn reached the edge of the cut and climbed out she was still gripping tmy favourite mug which she proceeded to smash on the towpath in temper! By just after 1.00pm we were tying up on the Cannock Extension canal at Norton Canes Boatyard, where we have left Minnow for the moment. With the car loaded up we set off home for Dawn to soak in a hot bath and get some warmth back into her bones. The moral of this weekend being, if you have a favourite mug,
don't let Dawn bang 'em about

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

That was the week (end) that was

Oh my god what a week end. It would take me forever to write down all the happenings in such a short space of time. Arrived up at Minnow by about 7.30pm on Friday after stopping at that excellent chippy in Gnosall again and eating fish and chips, this time with clean hands. Dave Ray, manager at Norbury Wharf Limited came over and said that one or two were joining him in his converted river class boat Ant at about nine for a drink or two and for us to come over if we wanted and that was the start of the boozy weekend for at about nine Dawn and I, Sue Cawson, John Blunn and Mavis Waldron and a couple who Dave knew who I can't remember their first names but surname was Ghost (very apt for halloween) The evening went on till quite late and several pints of cider and a bottle of port later, apart from a glass that Sue had, we ambled (staggered) back to Minnow at about four in the morning after listening to hours of David's crap CD collection of boy bands from the eighties going full blast. At about five in the morning Lucy Waldron arrived and went over to Dave's boat where he was fast asleep in the chair still clasping the nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels and the music was still playing full belt! Saturday morning came too soon and after a good full English, courtesy of Dawn we were ready to face the world along with many other's who were all cleaning brasses and cleaning boats down ready.
By early afternoon there was quite a collection of working boats around the basin with Minnow, Thea, Lion, Sickle, Kangaroo and Australia, Empress, Bootes and Battersea. By about 8.00pm the evening had started with the beer tent open with a selection of real ales, Holdens Golden and Enville brewery as well as Stowmill cider and Carling Larger for the girls. On the wharf three cut down oil drums were stocked with logs and a bag of coal each for people to gather round as well as tables and chairs in the marquee. At about nine the crowds were entertained by the band Meet On The Ledge who played for well over two hours followed by a computer full of music for all tastes, except when Dave took over as DJ and played eighties boy bands again. After about twelve pints of cider and well into the early hours, somebody suggested that we start Kangaroo and Minnow's Bolinder's in unison and so Lawrence and I set off back to the boats and put the lamps on and kicked both Bolinder's off to the delight of the crowd. The revelries continued until about four in the morning when sadly it all came to an end. But there was still Sunday left, as earlier on the Saturday it had been planned to go off for a jolly up to the Anchor Inn for a diner time drink, and then come back to Norbury for a communal Sunday Dinner provided by Lucy. At about 9.30 on the Sunday morning Dawn and I made our way over to the Cafe and had ourselves a full English to set us up for the day. At about midday Lawrence fired Kangaroo's Bolinder up and set off with Australia followed by John Blunn on Lion and then us on Minnow followed by Sue on Thea. Unfortunately there were two large fishing matches being held north of Norbury and along with the miles of moored boats, progress was quite slow and with the Anchor Inn shutting at 3.30 we were running out of time.
Lawrence was first there and he ordered twelve pints of beer ready for our arrival. With these consumed and an hour chatting we arrived back at Norbury just as it was getting dark, and just as the Sunday dinner was cooking. By six we were all called round to Lucy's boat and fourteen of us sat down for roast beef, roast pork, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, cauliflower, sweet potato mash and broccoli, it was absolutely superb. When finished we decided to have a drink of wine so I think four bottles of Lucy's wine were opened and consumed, followed by another three from off our boat then another six supplied by Dave and to finish off two bottles of Lucy's port. The evening passed all too quickly but the craick was brilliant with fourteen people sat in the well deck and the 'Dinette' of Lion the jokes, the humour, the sights (monkeys climbing trees at two in the morning and I believe that Lawrence saw an eclipse of the moon through Lucy's telescope! Long hard weekend's bring sore heads and I spent most of Monday morning recovering until Dawn drove us home in the afternoon after saying goodbye to all our friends and all hoping to do it again soon. Can't wait for the do at the Black Country Museum next year and of course for this bash next year. All I would like to finish off with is a massive great big thank you to all concerned for making this weekend one of the best, especially Simon and Dave from Norbury Wharf for making it possible, and don't bang 'em about too loudly