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December 30th - Kidsgrove

Well Christmas is over for another year!


We finally made it to Huddersfield on December 23rd.  My brother Nick made it to our location on the second attempt, though it took quite a while as there was so much traffic.  I had kept in touch with him on his journey over and when we knew that he would be with us in about fifteen minutes we started to transport all our stuff from the boat, along the towpath to a stile over the fence where he could park his car.  We really had packed everything!  It took Clive and I about four trips back and forth up the towpath until we finally had everything sitting at the side of the road.  Nick turned up a few minutes later and it didn’t take long to get everything stowed into his car and we were ready for off. 


The first part of the journey to Huddersfield was reasonably straightforward but just as he pulled over in order to turn right onto the M6 we saw the traffic – absolute gridlock on the motorway!  So a quick change of direction and we took a different route home.  Finally after a couple of hours we arrived at Thelma’s house. We soon had everything unloaded and said goodbye to Nick with our very grateful thanks. 


Our son Gareth was due to drive up on Christmas Eve to join us with his four year old daughter, Indeia, but he had a major mechanical problem with his van, one of his shock absorbers had ceased up and there just wasn’t time to get it fixed so our nephew, Ben (Thelma’s son) heroically gave up a party he was due to go to on Wednesday night and drove all the way down to Cambridge to fetch Gareth and Indy.  What a star! So they finally turned up about 8.00pm on Christmas Eve.  It was great to see them again.  Our daughter Vicki and her partner Ben were spending Christmas itself in the New Forest with Ben's family but they made the journey up to Huddersfield on the 27th so wewere all together at last.  We all had a good Christmas, thanks to my sister Thelma opening her house to us all.   There are a few photographs in the gallery.


We also  got some great presents for Christmas, all very much appreciated.  We got booze (always welcome!), new books (always welcome), some great hiking socks, hand warmers (amazing technology yet so simple) and we each got a really ingenious device for attaching to things that you really don’t want to lose, like keys for example.  If you should drop them in the canal this little device instantly inflates a balloon to keep your precious item afloat until you can fish it out of the water with a boat hook.  It also has a flashing light so that you can easily locate it in the dark.  I have been wanting one of these for ages.  They are amazing and can actually keep an item that weighs up to a kilogram afloat for several hours.   However I think the piece de resistance as far as I am concerned is the mouse that Vicki bought for me.  I have been struggling with the laptop's mousepad all this time and really missed having a mouse.  Vicki bought me a USB mouse with a retractable cable that easily stows away inside making it easy for storage.  It's wonderful.  I now have to get used to using it, I keep finding myself using the mousepad whilst my new mouse is staring at me with its blue eye wondering why I am ignoring it!  Many thanks indeed for all our lovely presents – you know who you are!  We have to apologise profusely to our poor son Gareth who was absolutely delighted with his present, Modern Warfare 2 – Call of Duty, until he noticed that it was for the Playstation 3 and he has an Xbox 360!! Oh dear – never mind, thanks to Vicki’s partner Ben it got sorted out when they arrived back in Cambridge – phew! We also have to thank Vicki and Ben for filling a hard drive with lots more downloads to keep us occupied on the long winter evenings!


All in all it has been a memorable Christmas but we both found ourselves really missing our boat! My nephew Ben once again came to our rescue.  After we had said goodbye to Vicki, Ben,Gareth and Indy and they headed off home to Cambridge, Ben first of all took us to the supermarket to do some shopping as we had no food left on the boat, then he drove us all the way back to Scholar Green where we had left Lady Arwen stuck in the ice.  We were absolutely delighted to see that someone had obviously cruised up the canal and broken all the ice, which meant that there was nothing to stop us leaving the following day.


Once we had unloaded all our worldly goods from Ben's car and tramped along the towpath with it back to the boat it was lunchtime and as Ben hadn’t had any breakfast, we all trooped off to The Rising Sun so that we could buy him lunch –well it was the least we could do!  While we were in the pub we bumped into Roy, a fellow boater whom we had met in the very same pub before we had left for Huddersfield before Christmas.  He asked Clive if we were doing anything that evening and if not would we like to augment the “boaters” team at the pub quiz!  We said yes. 


After expressing our sincere gratitude to Ben and waving him off we headed back to the boat to unpack and try and warm the boat up – it certainly felt very chilly after a week without any heat whatsoever!  We put the central heating on and Clive lit the stove and it really didn’t take long for the temperature to rise.  In the meantime we unpacked all our belongings and stowed them all away. 


We decided to move the boat a little further down the towpath so that we were nearer to the road and easy access to the pub.  The main reason being that the towpath was extremely muddy and also so that we didn’t have far to stagger home from the pub!  We were soon moored up again in our new spot right behind Roy’s boat.  Then we headed off to the pub ready for the quiz.


The boaters team was actually called “Slowly Sinking”!!!  We met the other members of the team, Pete and Pat, Roy of course and Richard.  They were a great crowd and we all got on very well but we didn’t win!  In fact the team came last and won the booby prize,  a bottle of wine.  By this time we had all had adequate sufficiency of drink for the evening (I had actually only had one glass of wine!) so we donated the bottle to Roy!  Then it was back to the boat and bed.


We had a good lie in this morning, in fact we didn’t actually wake up until nearly 10.00am! We didn’t bother with breakfast but settled for brunch around 11.30 before finally setting off around 12.30pm. The canal still had a lot of floating ice on the surface which made a terrible racket as the boat ploughed through it.  In some places it actually slowed us down!  It was also very, very windy!  As you know Clive really doesn’t like cruising when it is windy because it can be quite dangerous.  It makes handling the boat very difficult indeed, however we really didn’t have a choice today as we really needed to get over that aqueduct before the canal freezes over again as it shuts on January 4th!  It was very cold on deck, the wind was absolutely bitter!  Eventually though, after crossing the aqueduct and negotiating four locks, we arrived at Kidsgrove and finally said goodbye to the Macclesfield Canal and hello to the Trent and Mersey.  We are now in new territory, having not done this stretch before. 


The first thing we needed to do was fill up our water tank, however we were a bit shocked to see that there were boats moored all the way along the bank in front of the service station, even on the waterpoints!  I jumped off and walked along to the boat moored at one of the water points and knocked on the window.  A chap came out to speak to me – he said that he had been left on his own on the boat whilst the rest of the crew had gone off somewhere!  He suggested we moor up alongside him and he helped secure Lady Arwen to his boat so that we could then drape our hose across his bows to reach the tap.  The tap had very low pressure so it took forever to fill the tank!  Whilst it was filling Clive sauntered down the towpath to see if there was any space on the moorings for us to tie up.  There was, right at the end just before the lock.  So,once the tank was full we cruised a little way further down and got the boat moored and securely tied up.  It was, as I said earlier, extremely windy and mooring up was quite difficult but finally we were secure.  We were both very glad to get inside out of the cold and start warming up! 


We intend to stay on this mooring for a couple of days.  We are delighted to say that we are going to spend New Year’s Eve in Nantwich with our friends Heather and Les.  Heather is one of my oldest friends.  We met on our first day of infants school and have therefore been friends for over fifty years!  Even though we have not seen much of each other over the last thirty odd years, having both moved away from Huddersfield, when we meet again it is just as if we have never been apart – a sign of true friendship I suppose.  So we are really looking forward to tomorrow afternoon.  Heather and Les are coming to pick us up to drive us back to their house. 


We are not going to go out to celebrate the New Year, we are going to stay in, eat, drink and be merry and watch movies!  What more could you ask for – much more fun than going out to a crowded pub with loads of other people who we don't know, most of whom will be very drunk and probably very noisy.  Much better to have the company of good friends and get quietly drunk together! Ha ha!  We are also going to take the instruments with us so that we can all have a bit of a sing song.  Heather and I used to sing together when we were at school – we were both quite good at the close harmonies and actually performed for the school on more than one occasion!  I wonder if we can remember any of those songs?


So all that is left to say is:


"A very happy and prosperous New Year to all of our blogees – hope 2010 is going to be a good one for you all.  Thank you also for taking such an interest in our adventures over the last sixteen months and hope that you will continue to follow our escapades aboard Lady Arwen in 2010":D.


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