We're fast forwarding 13 days from our last published location, to get the blog up to date. To be fair, we've not travelled far from Market Drayton during that period, for various of reasons.
Last week I spent a few days on land in London with my eldest sister - staying in a four-star hotel near Regents Park. A luxurious temporary contrast to living in a confined space! We even had a bath in the room. Bliss! Conversely, witnessing hoards of people speeding around in their everyday busyness, reminded me once more why we've chosen to live slowly on a narrowboat.
Piccadilly Circus at night - busy, busy
Then on Sunday I left Barry again - to join my three sisters for lunch, and spend 24 hours with my mum and dad for Mother's Day, and my father's 94th birthday. Wow! Parents still living, together, and mostly healthy and happy. Miraculous.
Barry gives the impression he loves being left alone occasionally, and manages perfectly fine without me - well apart from the kitchen/cooking challenge! I believe it's healthy to spend time apart. Living together 24/7, however much you love someone, has its frustrations and challenges. The theory is we'll appreciate each other more too.
We're currently in Penkridge, having spent time moored at Cheswardine, Norbury Junction, Wheaton Aston, Brewood, Coven and Acton Trussell.
Here's a pictorial representation of our journey, with accompanying captions from Barry (as most of these journeys I've been 'working' indoors, or locking) ...
The wharf at Market Drayton
The happiest fishermen we've seen for a while!
Tyrley Locks looking a bit bare without all the foliage
Sandra taking it in her stride
Interesting to see cut hay this early in the season
Tyrley Top Lock
Through Woodseaves Cutting and the first of the high bridges, No 58 'Holling's Bridge'
Then 'High Bridge' with a fallen tree across the cutting
The winds and storms have done some damage to the trees through here
CRT workers were busy clearing it up and offered us as much wood as we wanted
It's an impressive cutting considering it was all done by hand
'The Wharf' tavern at Cheswardine, our mooring for a night
The sun came out in the morning making for very pleasant cruising
An old stable at Fox Bridge near Little Soudley
Past Cadbury Wharf at Knighton
Across the almost mile-long Shebdon Embankment (I guess this is where all the spoil came to from the cuttings)
The Anchor at High Offley, where we were recommended to visit - sadly we were a bit early and they were closed, next time we'll time it better!
Through Grub Street Cutting ...
… and under the famous High Bridge (yes, there's more than one called 'High Bridge'!) ...
… and another mooring at Norbury Junction
They were about to lighten our bank account considerably here!
So close to you Sue and Vic - another time …
As you can see, I managed some more stepping-over the lock gates - but admittedly I've also found myself unable to on another day. So I'm just going to play it by ear and not be too hard on myself. I know I CAN, and I'm fine if at times I can't, for whatever reason.
We were sad not to meet up with Sue and Vic from No Problem
whilst at Norbury Junction, as they'd left their boat for the weekend. We haven't seen them since 2010 - maybe this year sometime?
The remainder of the canal arm to Newport, though it's currently under restoration
A panorama shot as we left Norbury the next morning
Travelling through Gnosall Heath
The picturesque canal-side Boat Inn
A very slow passage through Gnosall as there was a fishing competition stretched from one end of town to the other
Under the short Cowley Tunnel (81yds)
More high bridges unique to the Shropshire Union Canal (though they're not all called 'High Bridge'!)
We had a few days of no internet signal - so took the opportunity to watch the remaining episodes of Homelands Series One
on the DVDs Helen and Andy
had lent us. Goodness, that's gripping drama isn't it? We're hoping they have series two waiting for us …
We're still on the 'Fast diet'
, though with me being away, and we've both had a bit of a cold, it's gone down to one day a week for a couple of weeks. But that's okay.
Daylight saving has been and gone, so the nights are increasingly lighter and longer. The weather is definitely milder, and there's a definite promise of sunshine and blue skies - mostly! The trees are sprouting their vibrant new growth, daffodils are blooming their yellowness all along the towpaths, and the birds are tweeting away merrily.
Sadly the midges are also waking up as the temperature increases, and pestering us from time-to-time!
Whilst at Norbury Junction, we decided to bite the bullet and buy new batteries. When we purchased Areandare almost 12 months ago, the previous owner had purchased one new-ish battery out of five. But their power, on the cut, just wasn't lasting. It's likely the 'new' one wouldn't have enough power to support the others. We figure that having to have the engine on so much to boost the batteries, when we're not moving, costs in diesel. So new ones should pay for themselves over a period of time. At least that's the theory ...
Barry managed to work it out so we have six domestic batteries now, which is even better. Since then, we haven't heard the alarm going off in the evening to say the power's run out.
So now we're up to date - hurrah!
Happy April everyone - one quarter of the way through 2014 already - amazing.