Saturday, 19 December 2020

Our Final 2020 Cruise

Saturday 19th December 2020

 Crafted Boats, Stoke Works to Droitwich Spa Marina

3.5 miles, 9 locks

The last time I posted our boat was in Crafted Boat's dry dock at the top of Tardebigge.  Today we collected her from their main base at Stoke Works.  She 'magically' made her way down the 36 locks without us!  When the work was planned we were supposed to be on holiday when she was due to do that trip.  The holiday had been cancelled, but due to trying not to mix, use a taxi to get us from one place to another etc, Crafted Boats agreed they would move her for us.

We started the day with an extended family Christmas Teams meeting with people calling in from New Zealand, Isle of Wight, Surrey, Bromsgrove (2 families), Derby and Wales.  I left Chris to move the boat to the top of Astwood whilst Monty and I went by car to lock 18.  By the time we got to the top lock Chris had sailed into the lock and was about to shut the top gate - a boat had exited the lock just as he arrived!  Did that bode well for the trip?  As you will see - it did.

Monty is up to speed with locking duties - first check the boat is on the way

and then check I am winding paddles correctly!

Back to timing - as we left the first lock a boat came up behind us!  Always better to be ahead.

The lock cottage garden all tidy for winter

With the cottage suitably dressed for the time of year 

and the gnomes all wrapped up in their winter overcoats

It is about half a mile from lock 18 to 17 and off Chris went whilst Monty and I 

did battle with the mud!

We did have some bits of blue sky and even some sun, but most importantly it stayed dry with only occasional gusts of wind.

Once Chris was safely through lock 17, Monty and I re-traced our steps and did trudging through the mud again to go back to lock 18, out onto the road to retrieve the car. 

We met up again at the top lock at Hanbury

Where once again the Gods were smiling on us - there was a young man with his six old son out taking a break from unpacking boxes and they were interested in how locks work.  They moved in to a cottage nearby just a few days ago.  Such was their interest that they opened and shut all the tow path side bottom gates for me.  Only a boater will understand just how much help that is.  I hope you see this and if you do I would like to thank you both for your help and I am sure Santa will reward all your hard work and good behaviour doing exactly what your Daddy told you to do.

We even managed to gather a gaggle of gongoozlers. Our final stroke of luck was that yet another boat came up to go down the locks behind us.

We parted company again at the bottom lock.  Chris pottered slowly to the marina, whilst Monty and I retrieved the car and made our way round to our mooring via the office for an electric card and the loo!  My boots were deemed too muddy to be allowed on board!

So here she is all tucked up for the rest of the winter.  Hopefully by the spring we might all be able to enjoy a bit more freedom.

So all it remains for me to do is to wish you all a Happy Christmas, albeit a very quiet one.  Our brother in law was going to come to us, but he is now in tier 4, so he will be staying at home.  Our son, daughter in law and their three children have all had / have covid.  The eldest child was tested on Tuesday and got her positive result yesterday, so it will be a quiet Christmas for them.  They have been pretty much confined to the house since the end of October.  Our son is still suffering a few odd symptoms, but the others seem to have escaped unscathed.  We may take a walk with our daughter, son in law and their two boys - we shall see.  Chris is vulnerable and we have been very careful since this all began - it would be foolish to throw caution to the wind when we hope the end is in sight.

Here's hoping that 2021 is a better year for the entire world.  Roll on the vaccine.