Monday 13 August 2007

Four Counties Ring - Gailey to Pasturefields

Four Counties Ring
Gailey to Pasturefields
13th August 2007
Staffs & Worcester and Trent and Mersey

17 Miles
13 Locks
9 Hours

A familiar stretch covering the eastern end of the Staffs and Worcester, than making a start on the Trent and Mersey. The upper Trent valley stretch is rather featureless and not a particular favourite. We moored up in a quiet wooded spot between bridges 84 and 85 with a thunderstorm threatening. The imminent arrival of the storm did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the farmers in the area who were very focused on getting on with their harvest. In fact the forecast rain spurred them on and we went to sleep with the distant sound of the combines droning away in the background - and then awoke to the patter of the predicted rain.

With Wand'ring Bark's DIY paint job nearing completion the captain took the opportunity to make a start of the front decals, armed with protractors, pencils, rulers and a compass. Guess what - the two sides aren't the same size!

Sunday 12 August 2007

Four Counties Ring - Calf Heath to Gailey

Four Counties Ring - anti clockwise
Calf Heath to Gailey
12h August 2007
Staffs and Worcester

2 Miles
2 Locks
2 Hours

With Belle away on an OU study weekend and an assignment pending I am left alone with Tilly and Jeff. Rather than kick our heels at home a boat trip seemed a good idea and we had five full days before the Andersons were scheduled borrow it. Whilst that's not enough time to get right round the Four Counties ring, it is time to do most of it and then meet them somewhere obvious, like Market Drayton.

The three of us had been together for a rather dismal time at New Wine, a big church festival in Somerset. Belle had popped in for a couple of days but that did little to lighten Jeff's mood, who was disinclined to engage with anything and had failed to find a niche for himself. The only thing that kept him going were the endless games of Boule and the promise of a few days away on the boat. We left New Wine a bit early and were home on the Friday evening, giving us the Saturday to do our washing and resupply before heading over to the boat mid afternoon. We therefore had a couple of hours to reach the mooring after the second lock of the Gailey flight - just between Brick Kiln and Boggs Locks where the M6 and the A5 pull away and you lose background drone.

This weekend was significant in that it marked the very last time we will visit New Wine as a family. We had attended the event on and off since its inception in the late 1980's and consistently since the children were about four. A ten year run was long enough and I don't envisage a return - ever.