WHEN Mary, our next door boater at Mercia Marina, offered another tour of the marina, we hastily accepted.
And of course then promoted her as our official tour guide—who better, she being so knowledgable as to the delights of the marina, as well as knowing so many of the residents.
This time we again took to the park where dogs are allowed to roam free, our very young Rhodesian Ridgeback spying playmates, who alas had not a chance in hell to keep up with the 'zooming' of our pooch!
Having such an area where dogs can run free, to us is marvellous, our needing a trip out at our last marina for her to be let off her lead.
But back to the tour and once more on the 'park' it being so large we were unable to see to the far end way in the distance, so had no idea of what it offered, but were most surprised to find a fixed table tennis facility, together with its box containing all manner of things for various activities.
So I persuaded Mary and our Jan to show their skills at table tennis, but alas, were sadly lacking and failed miserably.
So much so that, when then arriving at a another surprise— a complete badminton set-up, they refused point-blank to show any skills whatsoever.
So Mary had us carry on round a fence, and damn me another massive park I had to tramp, that was a delight for at least one us!
And yet another surprise of an outdoor 'gym' of all kinds of wooden obstacles, no doubt for the fitness freaks, but alas, my companions were not at all tempted to 'have a go', with the comment 'we will if you will', but 'no way José' told I—'much too old for that sort of lark'! So the 'girls' mutinied, as the picture clearly shows.
This was something I could see as being most popular for those wanting to keep in trim, and right on their doorstep. (Or perhaps that should be deckstep?)
But that was not all, as close by there was a well fitted-out childrens' area complete with lots of activities they could play on and even a slide, that I should imagine was quite popular. And of course this was one area that dogs were sensibly not allowed,
As many of the boaters in Mercia are residents, such activities for both adults and children being close together was very well thought out as giving something for adults and children side by side.
Spread out most attractively
So it had to be a long tramp to somewhere else in the marina—but don't ask me where, for as those boaters there know the marina is spread most attractively with individual piers designed to be apart from each other on what was formerly a fishing pond, with so many trees and bushes surrounding everything, so hadn't a clue were I was!
However, Mary suddenly made a beeline for a raised bank and started staring skywards—what is she looking for thought I? All was revealed when she grabbed a ripe plum, so I then realised why. It was the 'scrumping' area where boaters can help themselves to plums—that Mary was after—apples, pears and damsons, as they come into season.
So the end of our most surprising tour, and our thanks to Mary for showing what left us amazed at what Mercia has to offer its boaters, at surely which no other marina in the country can compete.
Yet I'm left with the impression from Mary that there are still more delights to see, her having dropped an hint or two...
After all, we have a massive 77 acres to explore!
And here's a picture from out first tour, showing part of the Bring & Take building with the left-hand shelves going way back and stuffed with articles that boaters have brought of every description that other boaters can take.
This, like the others I have been shown, illustrates how Mercia Marina certainly caters for its boaters, as surely no other.
I thought that a marvellous idea, having unwanted items myself I could then pass on.
Takes some believing
There is nothing so sure that if a set of lock gates looses a paddle, the lock can still function on one paddle—many certainly do.
But when one paddle failed on Lock 22E on the Huddersfield Narrow, the lock was closed. The only reason I could imagine could be it was leaking too much.
But the reason/excuse that the paddle was 'overwound ripping off a connector', so closing the lock takes some believing...
Something more should be done
It really is not enough for the 'we apologise for any inconvenience' being offered when a canal is closed, especially when closed for weeks on end.
The trust should surely do more to get the failures fixed more quickly.
Take the instance of John Graham stuck at Castlefield on the Rochdale for weeks whilst CaRT explains the delay being the use of a crane needing a road closed—that was not needed.
Boaters like that should be given all possible help instead of the 'we apologies for any inconvenience'—which really is not enough.
Someone should be on hand to see if there is anything those stuck boaters need or what help they want, to alleviate their long waits.
Another two weeks' cill
Another cill that needs two week to repair, this time on the Leicester Section, that has been causing problems since the 22nd June with assisted passage having to be booked and only on Tuesdays and Fridays between 1pm and 3pm.
Lock 42 at Leicester is now completely closed whilst the cill is replaced, that as is normal nowadays, will take two weeks having started on Friday 1st and being completed by Friday 15th.
How it should be done
Once again I will show you the picture taken way back when the waterways were under the jurisdiction of British Waterway, when a lock on the Atherstone Flight on the Coventry Canal needed a new cill that took just two days to fix. There were just three boats waiting at the top, us included.
The fella in the picture was pointing out that the deepest part of the canal is not in its centre, as most of the publications claim, but nearer the towpath, as the far side bank gets worn away over the years.
So keep nearer to the towpath on those silted-up waterways—less chance of wanting a River Canal Rescue!
I had better end with a bit of good news, and that is the two water points at Great Haywood Junction are now back in use.
These two taps at the junction of the Trent & Mersey and the Staffs & Worcs failed way back on Wednesday 9th of August, much to the despair of many a boater, but are now repaired, Keith Gudgin tells me.
Having a bit of good news I reckon we should have a bit of bad news—how about 31 stoppages over the 31 days of August? I reckon that's bad enough!
Which could relate (instead of an apple)—A stoppage a day keeps the boaters away—Eh?
And still more bad news—narrowboatworld is closed until 20th September. We've gone cruising, though I may have a word or two...
Victor Swift—telling tales for 23 years.