Thursday, 26 June 2008

Day 4

Well we didn’t manage to go any further yesterday…Mrs EB’s joined us and we migrated to the pub then back to TRB and that was it for the evening.

Today after Mrs EB’s brother left us we headed for Froghall, after a mile or so we got held up by two BW worker who had felled a tree across the canal, so we made them a cuppa and had a chat as they cut it all up. … a nice half an hour, after we got underway the heavens opened up and did so most of the way to the mooring we are at, we stopped off at a pub "The Black Lion" for a bit of lunch and we were met with the most surly pub landlord of all, I didn’t fancy my usual tipple of real ale so looking at the beer taps I saw Grosh and I asked for a Grolsh, his reply was “We have no Grolsh!!!” as if I should have known? so I asked for a different Lager and the pub menu..again “ We are not doing food!” again as if I should have known…out side it did say Good food and Ales…stupid us for thinking they did food and ales huh?

So we are now at Froghall and we have a fire going and are showered and as warm as toast and just thinking about tea…..

And what a difference a pub makes!!! we went to The Railway at Froghall for was fantastic, I had a Fillet Steak "rare", and it was cooked perfectly. Mrs EB had a Rump steak medium and that was to die for, we then had pudding. I had Bread and Butter pud with custard and Mrs EB had Orange and Passion teardrop both were amazing, the service was great, loads of smiles and nothing too much trouble, the manager came over after we had finished and had a nice chat with us and made us feel like old friends. The meal was a good price and we felt valued customers....all in all well worth a visit if you are ever down the Froghall way.

P.S. Timelord will be pleased we have met no Klingons or Pirates so far

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Day 3

Foxleys to Denford

We woke up to rain!!! I actually didn’t wake up until 9:30!!! Oh well I am on holiday. Anyhoo I set us off and within 5 minutes it was belting down, so I moored us up and battened down the hatch only for it to stop…ho hum.

Well we just pootled up the cut and stopped off between two locks at Stockton Brooke and found a really nice pub for lunch. When we got back a boat was just coming out of the lock so I made for that and Mrs EB ran up to warn the next boat coming down.

The sun was out the sky clear, it was quite windy but a wonderful trip. As we made for Denford, I called Mrs EB’s brother to warn him we were near by and to ask him if he wanted to join us for the evening and we are sat outside the Hollybush at Denford with beer in our hands waiting.

More later.

Shelagh, Sunburn & Stoke

Shelagh here! .....After only one day in the great outdoors I'm as pink as a lobster. I've even had to resort to wearing a hat - (I don't do hats).

I'm not quite sure what will end up in my sections of the but I did a lot of reading up on our destinations(s) as I always do before any trip & found a lot of useful info on other narrowboaters' blogs that wasn't in the 'official' guides, like, "when is it safe to boat through Stoke?"!

Although we've had the Robber Button since Sept, this is the first longer trip we've done & it has been wonderful to move into unchartered territory. The furthest north we had previously made it up the Trent & Mersey canal was just past Weston. Stone was absolutely charming (the restaurant was called 'La Dolce Vita' by the way ) and travelling through the locks in the centre of Stone & then Meaford (pronounced 'Method' apparently) was an absolute delight in the glorious sunshine. We encountered a couple of very helpful British Waterways guys who were repainting Trentham lock. In fact there were lots of pleasant conversations at locks, finding out where folks had come from & were heading to. I took the opportunity on each occasion to ask where to moor in Stoke having read a few scare stories in guidebooks & on the net. Everyone advised stopping anywhere on the Caldon in Stoke, and advised it was best to either moor up at Etruria by the old Festival Park site, or better still, just don't stop at all! However, as we'd set off much later than planned yesterday I couldn't see how we could get all the way through Stoke & out the other side as we would need to be travelling the reported 'dodgy' area in the late afternoon/early evening which we'd been told to avoid at all costs. More on that later!

Coming into Stoke is fascinating - there is a sudden change from rural bliss to industrial cityscape with factories, 'A' roads & train lines literally next to, or over, the canal. Having worked in Stoke at one time, Davie was intrigued to see it from such a different perpective. It was late afternoon by this time & there were lots of ordinary folks walking or cycling the towpath & it didn't feel scary at all as we went through the flight of 5 locks, the last of which (Summit lock as it is one of the highest in the country) was absolutely huge. Rather than turning into the Caldon Canal just there we continued straight ahead for 5 mins to moor at Festival Park as recommended. I didn't feel unsafe there, unlike Davie, but it did seem such a shame to moor up on about the least interesting stretch of canal we have encountered with a busy traffic bridge & Toby Carvery for a view! The advantage of being out around Midsummers day is the number of daylight hours & being only late afternoon, we still had a number of potential cruising hours left. So we made the decision to press ahead & do what everyone had said to avoid.... and I'm so glad we did!

Our first challenge was our first ever staircase locks. Fortunately British Waterways had put up idiot proof step-by-step on the lock-side. We were taking it in turns to work the locks & the paddles were so stiff I could hardly move them - I shall have huge muscles by the end of this holiday! After a stretch of 'Coronation Street' style housing we went through Hanley Park - beautiful but a couple of anxious moments as the canal is very narrow with the tow path so close to the boat, groups of lads we passed could have stepped onto the boat very easily if they wanted to. There were lots of people around & it was a beautiful stretch with overhanging trees & beautiful old victorian iron bridges. The scenery then changed to a more industrial style with old bottle kilns & derelict factories -but rather than being ugly as we had been led to believe, we felt there was so much character & we gave a few moments thought to the hundreds of boatmen travelling this route who would have seen much the same views in previous centuries. We saw signs saying Stoke Council & British Waterways are undertaking a regeneration project in the area & this was very much in evidence with a stretch of beautifully paved towpath with new moorings & other restoration work. The Ivy House lift bridge was the next challenge. Despite numerous searches on the interweb I had not been able to find out how it worked. Davie eventually figured it out but won't tell me! He says it's similar to a Krypton Factor challenge & it looks like I'll have to do it on the way back - I don't mind except that you have to stop the traffic to let the bridge come up; I really don't want to have queues of impatient motorists watching me trying to solve the puzzle!
As we exited the suburbs. pleased we had not encountered groups of towpath yobs, a rain of stones clattered into the roof of the boat & fortunately not on our heads. This happened twice more at bridges further on. At one point the perpetrators peeped over the wall of the bridge so we could see their faces - I would guess at their ages being 10 or 11. I was just thankful it was small stones & not bricks!
A sudden downpour happened just as we were passing a pub that offered an overnight mooring - how convenient! We moored up & headed for a pint after a fascinating first full day.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Day 2

We set off a little later than maybe we thought we would due to my not waking up until 10am!!! Ho humm.

Anyhoo we left stone at about 10:30ish and headed off towards Stoke…and what a really nice journey it was, we just carried on until arrived at Eturia …we got there about 6pm-ish and moored up, after about 10 minutes I really thought, I don’t want to pitch up here, and we went up the Caldon canal and hey ho after about 2 ½ hours we found this little pub The Foxley and have moored up there.

On the downside once on the Caldon canal and way past Stoke in the near countryside we were pelted with stones? Not once but twice…. Anyhoo enough of this Mrs EB has a large fillet steak cooked with my name on it.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Our First full Holiday on The Robber Button

Day one

Well today is the start of our holiday, we are heading to the Caldon Canal to Froghall. We had hoped to get away early, but a serious fault with the toilet put a stop to that. I tried to fix it on Sundaywhen Mrs EB found the fault and couldn’t so a frantic to Jon from Great Haywood Marine Services Sunday afternoon to see if he could squeeze me in Monday morning was made. Jon had a look first thing Monday and we tried several things but it had him stumped. So John was called for, and after a 30 minutes he found the problem, and a good hour or so later and after I had done a journey into Rugely to get a few bits and pieces it was repaired.

Just after 3pm we set off!!!! And we had a nice journey up to Stone and found a mooring. Stone is a really pretty stop off point, we got here just after 8pm and had a wonderful Italian meal at a Canalside eatery. I am sure Mrs EB will be adding to this and she will remember the name… Anyhooo I am pooped out and as its just after 10:30 I will hit the hay.