Saturday, 8 April 2017

Sunny cruise to Deptmore

Tixall Wide must be one of the most pleasant places to moor on the system, especially on a sunny day. It's very quiet, the locals make good use of the towpath and are friendly and there's always something to watch.

Nonetheless, we wanted to get on, so set off at around half eight along the first stretch of the Staffs and Worcs. There's just time to make and drink a cup of decent coffee with the AeroPress before the lock hoves into view. Fruit of the Vine was just on her way up it as we got there but initially there was no sign of anything coming the other way, good news I passed on to Sheila hovering below the lock.

However, just as I was about to close up and turn the lock a boat appeared coming round the corner. I warned Sheila, who now had a bit of a problem as the lock landing is out of action at the moment being repiled, at last, and the cut is very shallow on the offside. The bow promptly became enamoured of the offside, naturally, and it took her some determined reversing to get it unstuck. The steerer of the boat coming down was a bit bemused to see Sanity Again disappearing backwards down the cut.

"I think she's left you!" was his observation to me.

After that, things were pretty much plain sailing on a splendid day. I pottered about doing chores down below – there's just nice time to run a wash load between Tixall Lock and Deptmore – and sitting out on the bow being a lookout. There was a bit of traffic without it being in any way a problem. For my money, this is not the best bit of the S&W but it's still very pleasant on a fine Spring morning.

We've tied in our favourite spot above Deptmore. There's just a bit of noise from the M6 but nothing to compare with the traffic noise in Mercia. The whirligig was deployed though the fresh breeze meant that only light items could be left out. We did try putting up some shirts and a pair of trousers but one of my shirts, in particular, decided it was a spinnaker and filled with wind (like its owner some might say – as long as they don't expect me to buy them a pint). In order to enjoy our lunch in peace we took the larger stuff in.

The afternoon has ambled past in relaxed fashion. We've seen the first ducklings of the year, just a pair of them and a proud mum. The farmer across the way did start spreading muck on the huge field there, but hasn't come too close to the water's edge and is now busy ploughing it in. He's using a five share plough and one of those massive tractors, a major contrast to the way it was done when this canal was built and indeed up until after the Second World War.

Tomorrow, Penkridge.


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