|I don’t think they stopped smiling all day 😊|
There’s been a paucity of blog entries over the last couple of weeks as we have been out and about and didn’t really want to advertise where the empty boat was. I know the last few entries have said we were at Wigan, but we had cruised through there and moored at a place called Gathurst, about four miles to the west. We chose Gathurst (pronounced Gath-urst not Gat-hurst) as we wanted to be close to a station and also have somewhere handy to park the car whilst we had it.
|Our mooring at Gathurst for the last 10 days|
We had driven back from Scotland last Sunday and were having a couple of nights on the boat before setting off for a few days down south followed by a trip back to Yorkshire to leave the car at my parents’ house and then catch the train home again.
On Monday morning, Dave and Barbara came by on their narrowboat on their way to Liverpool; we will be overlapping with them in the docks for one night. Their friends Chris and Aileen were on their boat and they stopped for a morning cuppa too. Chris and Aileen are kiwis and come over for six months every year to cruise on their boat here in the UK with Dave and Barbara. We had heard a lot about them and it was good to finally meet – they were a lovely couple and seemed great fun.
On Tuesday morning we drove down to our old hunting ground, Leamington Spa, as Karen was sitting her CEVNI exam, her final step to gaining an International Certificate of Competence for cruising the inland commercial waterways of mainland Europe. When I sat the exam I only got two questions wrong (both silly mistakes of course 😉) so the pressure was on. She did even better and only answered one question incorrectly; she still maintains that it was a made up question and no such colour combination of balls, bicones and lights exists 😊
Whilst Karen was in her exam I went for a wander round Stockton cutting looking for late small blues, grizzled and dingy skippers. It wasn’t quite warm enough but I did find a male common blue at rest:
|Beautiful spotted underside of a male common blue|
I also found a large patch of greater butterfly orchids:
|Greater butterfly orchid|
In the afternoon we visited my sister in Aylesbury to pick up the top box for the car as we were due to be moving Catherine out of her digs in London on Saturday. As it turned out, Catherine was offered a job that very day and so will be staying in London. We took the top box anyway as it would be better stored with the car. We sat in Judith & Nigel’s garden having a couple of beers and a chat and then drove down to Wendover to stay with Karen’s mum, Ann, for the night.
Wednesday morning saw us on the last stage of our road trip as we headed for Lauren and Lewis’s in Reading. Most of our family were staying with them for a couple of days celebrating Sophie and Yanos’s wedding.
The wedding was perfect, and it was so lovely to see Sophie smiling all day long – she was so happy 😊. There were about 30 guests and all of our daughters were bridesmaids to Sophie and, of course, they all looked stunning. Sophie made a wonderful speech, some of which was explaining that her pink and Yanos's blue colours were purely coincidental and not gender stereotypical!
Here are a few shots from the day:
|Most of the male contingent enjoying pre-wedding drinks having been banned from wedding preparations|
|Proof that I own a suit and a tie|
|Not sure what had made Karen and her children laugh|
|Eight of our nine children in the bar in the evening|
On Friday morning most of us went to Sophie’s for a slap up breakfast and then we made our way back home to the boat. What should have taken 4 fours ended up being 8 1/2 hours because of countless accidents on the M40 and M6.
Saturday saw us up early and driving to Yorkshire to see my parents and leave the car at their house. With the well-publicised chaos caused by the new train timetables in the north we ended up catching four trains to make the 40-odd mile journey back to the boat.
Once we were settled back on board we decided to have a little cruise. We went under the M6 and stopped the other side of Dean lock to take on water. Many’s the time we’ve passed over the canal on the M6 looking down on the canal, but this was the first time we had seen it from the other way around.
|Dean lock looking up to the (quiet) M6|
There is a disused lock next to the current lock. It was originally built as a dry dock but was converted to and used as a duplicate lock before it fell into disrepair. There used to be a third lock here leading down to the River Douglas which used to be the main navigation to Wigan before the canal was opened as far as the town.
|The disused lock|
The mooring area for taking on water was very short, consequently the bows were sticking right out into the canal making it tricky to get to the water tank.
|Moored for water – the old lock down to the river was to the right of the lock keeper's cottage|
We carried on another ¼ mile before mooring up for the night overlooking the flood plain of the River Douglas
|Our Saturday night mooring…|
|...and looking the other way|
We now have three days to travel the final 30 miles into Liverpool so will probably have a cruise on Sunday, especially with such good weather forecast.
And to finish, here are five of my six children at the wedding: