AFTER the hasty retreat from the Caldon we discovered moorings aplenty.
With the newly installed moorings either empty, or as in the case of the picture, with a single boat. Now I wonder what that tells us, eh?
For us, the Caldon has always posed the problem of shopping, but now an Aldi appearing right by the side of the waterway in Hanley proved most useful though not normally a customer, not caring for its method of having to pack your purchases away from the till.
With one of us doing the shopping at least it gave another the time to work on the puffer coat that had become wrapped around the tiller, having obviously been slung over the bridge.
Very well fed
The insects along the Caldon must be very well fed what with CaRT insisting the vegetation by the towpath and the water be left for them, as the picture rather well shows.
But really, does such vegetation need be left un-mown? Especially, as I may have mentioned before, it is dangerous for small children taking it for somewhere to hide and falling in the water, that has been reported in narrowboatworld, never mind the problem of a boat needing to get into the side for one reason or another. Mind you, I expect most of us realise it is little more than CaRT saving cash for other things...
The new colour scheme
How about the new lock beam colour scheme?
All it is is the undercoat, that very soon will be ruined as it is not too permanent, but perhaps yet another way of saving cash for other things!
But I must relate that I rather approve of the steel beams back in use, as they are easier to operate as usually longer that the wooden ones, giving more leverage. Though I expect the 'traditionalists' will object, but steel is longer lasting which is something of a problem these days.
So now you know
Many of you have asked why I often refer to Colwich Lock on the Trent & Mersey as 'Cow Shit Lock'.
Well, the picture shows the reason. The track up to and over the bridge connects a field with a farm, so is used to bring the cows over from time to time, as they certainly know their way.
Which leaves that part of the towpath rather muddy, with you know what, that suggests a pair of wellies to negotiate.
It also explains the two towpath gates that when closed allow the cows access.
As I am being kind to CaRT this time, I'll mention that lots more mooring rings are being put in along the top side of Rugeley, that is is favourite place for boaters, it boasting two major supermarkets plus a variety of other shops being a nice little town.
Jan tells me that these are not really new as in our early days there were rings along that stretch, but over the years have eroded.
We have used the town time and time again over the years, even once discovering a combination door lock after ours gave up the ghost, in one of its shops.
A 'plus' is that it is all right next to the waterway.
Another cycle track
Afraid that you who like to walk—with or without a dog—along the grass towpath between Woodend Lock and Fradley will have to share it with fast cyclists before too long, as it is being 'upgraded' to a cycle track.
Worker are busy laying the foundations of the track just below the lock by machine as can be seen in the picture, meaning that in future us with dogs will have to take extra care with them avoiding the cyclists.
I expect that before too long it will be one long cycle track along the Trent & Mersey—it is certainly looking that way.
Not really fair
What was quite annoying was the difficulty in mooring by that rubbish disposal facility by the A38 near to Barton Marina, with the boat Dabbler firmly ensconced directly on its moorings, with the silt making it somewhat difficult to get right into the side to off-load the rubbish.
Some people just don't think about the problems they create providing they are 'alright Jack'.
This was the facility that was moved into Barton Marina, but any decent strength of wind made it a hazard to get to the facility so CaRT had little alternative but to move it back, making sure boats could get easy access. But not at the moment however.
Replaced at last
To end on a positive note, a fervent "Alleluia!" from our Jan when operating the bottom gates at Stenson Lock. They had after 25 year years—to our knowledge—been replaced at last!
These are the locks that volunteers would not take on as they were so hard to move with the paddles too stiff for any but the strong to operate. A further problem was that either side lock gate would not open wide enough for a narrowboat to either enter or leave, and being particularly difficult to 'get started'.
So it's 'Alleluia! indeed.