Saturday, 12 June 2010

All aboard Northern Pride

Northern Pride comes to town
Sunday 6th June 2010

Last Sunday was a bit special.

No sooner had I returned from the Stourport Ring that we were back on board Wand'ring Bark for a day trip with a difference.

Northern Pride

Last autumn we met up with Sandra and Barry aka Northern Pride, just before they returned to New Zealand for the winter / summer (depending on how one looks at these things). Sandra and Belle worked together in the Midwifery Dept of Good Hope Hospital years ago and only discovered a mutual interest in narrowboats via Facebook. Both were mutually stunned when they realised that they had been following each others blogs without clocking the link. Goodbyes were said with promises made of a further meeting in 2010.

Viking Afloat at Gailey

Well, 2010 is well progressed and Northern Pride has resumed it's slow pictoral journey around England. This year the plan is a five month tour of the "southern bits", but they felt the need to take a look at the BCN and the Staffs and Worcester before they turn their backs on the Midlands and the North. The spirit of Carpe Dieum ruled and we arranged to meet up for a watery trip.

Leaky gates

As luck would have it, their itinary brought them right up to our mooring at Calf Heath on the day of the trip, so we merely had to extracate outselves from the marina and pluck them from the foredeck of Northern Pride.

It was a cracking day at all levels. In the main the sun shone and we tootled down the Staffs and Worcester to Penkridge and back, calling in at the Gailey Roundhouse bookshop where I spent loads of cash on obscure waterways publications. Lock followed lock as the girls cackled away in the bows (pointy end) whilst Barry and I put the world to rights at the stern (blunt end).

Cross Keys pub Penkridge

The day was enhanced by the girls zipping off to the Cross Keys to fetch us a couple of "take out"  pints of beer in the plastic glasses we keep on board for the purpose. The predominantly masculine crowd outside admired the way our respective wives fetched drinks for us, but this appreciation went a tad far when Sandra was chatted up and followed into the ladies. The girl can still pull - and we are not talking about pints!

Oh Danny boy - the pints, the pints are calling

We winded at Penkridge and then it was back to the summit pound of the Staffs and Worcester. If you follow the Northern Pride blog (and you really should) Barry is something of a wizz with the camera. He sees photo opportunities where we mortals see the mundane, and rolls out great shot after great shot. We chatted a lot about photography and he very charitably gave me an informal days tutorial.

Barry getting an angle on things

I did come to appreciate that there are disadvantages to being both helmsman and budding photographer, with Barry zipping here and there whilst I was rooted to the stern of Wand'ring Bark, capturing what limited perspectives this location offered. We chattered incessantly all day long, but this was to the detriment of my steering. My repeated knocks and jolts roused regular cries of anguish from "them up the front" when their wine was spilt.  I tried to protest and point to the surging side wiers as the root of my inaccuracy, but they wouldn't have any of it.

Sandra, Belle and Barry

And so we returned as the rain fell and the temperature dropped. As a final treat we were shown a collection of best of last years photos which were, as Andrew Denny (Granny Buttons) put it, "sickenly good". Andrew - my apologies if I have mis-quoted you. 

Barry and Sandra - thanks for a truly great day. I can't remember a boating day which passed so quickly. Have a great 2010 summer trip "daan saarf".

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