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  • clivenmel

Sept 16th

Its been a strange day.........................! We left our overnight moorings and headed for Harecastle Tunnel which was about half an hour's cruise.  There was one boat ahead of us and one behind.  We arrived at the tunnel's entrance just as the boat in front was going through.  We had to stop and the Tunnel Keeper came and asked us some questions: how many souls on board, did we have any pets and would we please sound the horn...............this he said was just to let the Bogart know we were coming!!!  He told us to watch our heads in the middle of the tunnel?!  We set off into this cold, damp and very dark hole with our headlight on and all the cabin lights on - this helps to light the tunnel walls so that you can gauge your position.  Well it was a very long, slow trip through the bowels of the Earth and although we didn't see any sign of the Bogart I am sure I heard a distant whisper of "Preciousssssssssssssss!  We discovered what he meant by "watch your heads" as there were some very low stretches, its a good job we are both on the short side!  We finally emerged through a very narrow opening, the North Portal, and were very glad to see the light and the warmth, not that it was particularly warm today, but the tunnel was freezing!  It took us about 45 minutes to make it through. We continued to cruise for about ten minutes and then we arrived at the Kidsgrove or Red Bull Junction, where we turned left onto the Macclesfield Canal - we suddenly realised that we had left the Midlands behind and were definitely in Northern England, even the accent has changed already! Not long after we had got onto the Macclesfield we moored up just before an aquaduct.  We had seen a sign in the canal book for a launderette!  Now as you know I did manage to wash my smalls by hand but it was reaching the stage where we needed to do a bigger wash, so we packed all the dirty washing into bags and set off in search of the said launderette.  Well we had been walking for about ten minutes and hadn't a clue where it actually was so we asked a couple of local ladies walking their dogs and they informed us that there wasn't one!  Both ladies had lived here all their lives and were sure there wasn't one, so we just had to walk back to the pub we had just passed in order to drown our sorrows!  Whilst in The Red Bull imbibing and stuffing our faces we informed the landlady what we were looking for - "its over the road, just there" she said pointing at a white building across the road!  So having finished our repast we hotfooted it over the road only to find the laundry door was locked and needed a British Waterways key - we had left ours on the boat!  Fortunately a nice man from Perth, Australia who was just filling his boat up with water, lent us his key to get in.  We then found that there were no detergent vending machines and of course we didn't have any did we!!!  We also found that we needed a special "credit" card from British Waterways to use the machines - luckily there was a BW office upstairs so we purchased them from there.  Then we trudged back to the boat, or at least Clive did, I carried on up the road to find a Tesco's that we had been told about.  It seemed to be miles away!  However I found it and got the Bold and headed off back to the boat, collected Clive and we trudged back to the launderette.  Well we finally got one load, the darks, washed and dried (it took two dries!) and we had to pass the time by going back to that nice pub for more imbibing!  Anyway, byy that time we had both lost the will to live and set off back to the boat.  We will have to go back and do the "lights" tomorrow!  It is unlikely that we will get any further after that so there probably won't be a blog.  I wouldn't mind a day of rest I can tell you - this is supposed to be all about rest and relaxation!!!  I have put a few photos in the gallery but we are having serious problems getting a good signal for the dongle, which is currently dangling out the window!  It takes soooooooooooooooo long to download anything.  Updating the blog and putting photos on is taking up to two hours at the moment!  Oh well, I'm off to watch a DVD now - as we still can't seem to get a decent picture on the TV, we need a longer pole for the aerial!

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