Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Very Last Day of our Summer Cruise.

Tuesday 22nd October, 2013 at Aston Marina, Staffordshire.
Rain overnight, rain at breakfast and more rain forecast throughout the day. Just what we needed! Dawn was very grey and forbidding.
We decided that we might as well do all of the very last bit up to Aston Marina and moor up MM today, even though she was not booked in until tomorrow. A quick telephone call confirmed that this was no problem, so we girded our loins, donned our waterproofs and set off.
Despite one or two bursts of heavy rain, the day actually improved and it ended up being a pleasant cruise. Many of the low-lying fields were flooded after the last two weeks of continuous rain.
There were three locks left to do today and all three have a story. The first is where we met and befriended an Israeli family last month - such a nice family, coping bravely with the challenges of a strange language and an even stranger mode of transportation - we do hope that they enjoyed the rest of their holiday. At the second lock, M helped a group of obviously novice boaters with the workings of the paddles and gates, then discovered that they were truly brand new - they had bought the boat nb "Sophie" and taken possesion of her just this morning! You never saw a happier or more excited bunch of people - but that's boating for you, even in the rain!
At Sandon lock, the very last of 356 locks this year, a C&RT chap was working nearby and came and opened the gates for us. He was out of our line of vision behind the bridge so, as we approached the lock, to our surprise the lock gates seemed to open as if by magic! He very kindly closed the gate for us as we left our very last lock of the year.
We will always have a special affection for Sandon lock, as it is where we discovered the "elegant" little lime kiln on the way down. It was open just for one day and it happened to be the day that we were passing.
Then suddenly, almost before we knew it, we were at Aston Marina.  Hooray!
We turned in, found our space (A22) and R backed MM gently into her winter home as the sun came out.
The afternoon improved, so it was possible to give MM a wash down, and even a polish, to prepare her for the winter.
The unsettled weather made for a very dramatic sunset, the last of many beautiful sunrises and sunsets this summer.
Coming to the end of a wonderful summer is a bittersweet moment; we have had such a great time on MM. She has served us so well and helped us to see so much of England this year, just as we planned.
Over the winter, she will come out of the water to have her hull re-blacked and a couple of minor jobs done so that she will be ready to take us on another adventure, up north this time, next year. Thank you, "Many Meetings", for a fabulous year and for all the fun we have had.
Watch out for our "diary" to resume as we start off again next year!
Today: 8 miles, 3 locks and 3.6 hours.
Trip: 584 miles, 356 locks and 459.9 hours.
Since MM was launched: 1,179 miles, 836 locks and 961.4 hours.

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