Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Goldilocks on the Shropshire Union

Tonight we reached the end (the southern end that is) of The Shropshire Union. We are tied up close to the stop lock which connects it to the Staffs and Worcester, and has, according to my Pearson's guide book, a drop of six inches. 

The journey on the Shroppy has been good.  Since we got into the narrow locks, there has been a Goldilocks number of boats about. Not too few - which gives us all the work to do, and not too many - which leads to queues and frustration. Just a perfect number so that in many locks we only had half of the work to do.

We are very close to Wolverhampton. We am familiar with the Black Country vernacular and thought it safe to engage a row of fishermen in some Wolvo banter. Not so. What ever they said was impenetrable. This led us to that most awful of fall back positions - grinning like idiot children. Even their gestures were ambiguous - were they waving us on or asking us to stop? 

After a diplomatic exchange, it turns out they were asking us to cruise nearer the tow path so that we would avoid disturbing their catch on the far side of the canal. This might be us being thick but why don't they get a shorter rod and sit on the other bank? 

One of the other mysteries is that we are tied up in a leafy spot which conceals a massive sewerage plant. This really smells but not in a way you'd expect. Why does it perfume the air with the scent of of  clean laundry? 

Monday, 3 June 2019

Ta Ta to Tattenhall

This cruise will be our last on our own boat and is therefore tinged with sadness. I was dreading it but made mind to treat it as a holiday instead of a trip to the brokerage mooring. It goes up for sale pretty much from the moment we cruise into Great Haywood Marina. They have all the details and are just waiting for the actual boat. 

Until then, she is ours to enjoy. And we have had a grand few days on The Shropshire Union which in early June is fringed with wild flowers and lacey cow parsley. The weather has been weird with sudden violent downpours and hot winds. 

Today has been gorgeous sunshine and we decided to press on from Audlem through 16 locks and are now tied up in Market Drayton. We've had good dinners in The Barbridge Inn and The Lord Combermere. Tonight we plan to walk up into town for dinner at The Red Lion, a Joules pub, we liked on a previous journey. 

There bow lacks its customary flowers as they might mess up the paintwork. Captain is obsessively polishing at every available moment. The newly blacked hull has taken a few scrapes and scratches down to lockwheleing, high winds and vicious by-washes. 

I have hardly done any cooking and Captain's blog about LPG has had little relevance to this trip so far. We have had to take sandwiches up top as there have been no stopping opportunities in the lock schedule. Then, imagine our delight when at the final.lock of the day, we found a lockside stall with an honestly box. We helped ourselves to scones, jam and clotted cream all freshly bagged up. It had our names on it. Not literally, of course but it felt like when you see a mirage of water in a desert and I thought Panda's Pantry said Pandy's Pantry (my childhood nickname).

Town Gas

It is baffling to me why the LPG cookers both on our current boat, our previous. boat, and our motorhome take much longer to cook anything than a conventional cooker. Typically we wind the gas up an extra notch and give whatever it is an extra 5 or 10 minutes.

Now I had presumed that it must be the difference between methane and propane, yet when I research this (research being Wikipedia - where else?) I find that LPG has a higher calorific value and burns at a higher temperature, but there shouldn't be any difference: "It would be difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference between cooking with natural gas and LPG." 

Maybe it is down to the cookers?

Perhaps I should worry about more important matters. 

PS. First Mate is working up to a much more interesting blog, which I imagine might contain detail on our cruise so far, and probably include valuable information on the charity shops of Audlem.