Friday, 20 June 2014

A Very Special Day Trip to MM.

Friday 20th June, 2014 at Aston Marina.
We went back home to Reigate for a week in order to see David and Justina, who were over from America for a short visit. Justina had a tough schedule of business appointments but David had the opportunity to spend time with the family.
Today was the final day of their visit and David had a free day. R was naturally keen to make the most of these last precious hours with him and, since David had never seen MM, R had a brainwave and suggested that we take David up to MM for the day. Theresa, David's mother, was also anxious to spend time with David on his last day, so it was natural that we also included her, especially since she too had never seen MM.
What an utterly wonderful, memorable day it turned out to be!
Theresa arrived at our house at 7:00am, in time for one of R's special latte coffees. M's sister, Janice, very kindly picked us up and dropped us off at Redhill station on her way to work as there are no buses at that time of the morning.
David joined us at Euston; he'd overslept! Consequently, he'd missed breakfast so he was jolly pleased when M produced a huge picnic on the train! We had a super journey up to Stone, all chatting happily away. Stone railway station is a lovely old building and we enjoyed the sunshine as we waited for the taxi.
Soon the taxi arrived and drove us the short distance to the marina where we gave David and Theresa what R calls the "ten cent tour" of MM. David appeared to have been under the impression that MM was tiny and cramped, so it was good to enlighten him! It was especially great for him to see the name panel at last because he had designed it and drawn the two hobbit characters which are the emblem of MM - and much admired by all.
We had time for a short trip out and fortunately, the weather was perfect. We turned north out of the marina and up to Aston Lock. The lock is a milestone point as it is exactly halfway on the Trent and Mersey Canal. The milestone itself shows 46 miles to Shardlow at one end and 46 miles to Preston Brook at the other. David was keen to operate the lock and did so very competently with only a little help from M.
Theresa, meanwhile, "took the rays". At one point she and David did a "Titanic" together on the front of MM's roof.
It was a lovely, relaxed journey towards Stone. David took the tiller and managed to keep MM nicely in the centre of the canal but he was surprised at how much you had to concentrate to stop her drifting one way or the other.
Just below Stone bottom lock we turned round and made our way back towards the marina. At Aston lock a large floating island of vegetation had got stuck in front of the lock, so the only option was to push it through and out the bottom end of the lock using MM.  David used the pole to stop it getting jammed in the paddles as the lock emptied.
He also had to keep it away from the lock gates as we opened them and then make sure that it came out of the lock with MM.
We also fished out two large logs that had floated into the lock.
Back at the marina, R moored MM up and we all went to the Bistro for lunch. The staff were amused to hear that R had brought not only his youngest son but also his "two wives"! David is a vegan and the Bistro had laid on a special two-course meal for him of roasted figs, asparagus and salad. Theresa and M had the Bistro's celebrated fish and chips that M always says is the best that she has ever had anywhere.
We decided to take an extra hour over lunch and go back on a later train. The taxi collected us at 5:00pm for the train back to Euston. We were all a bit sleepy after such a super day!
We said our farewells at Victoria Station, David went back to his hotel to pack for their flight back to the US tomorrow morning. It was hard to say cheerio as we don't know when we will see David next. Theresa, M and R took the train back to Redhill
It was the most marvellous day and we hope that both Theresa and David will retain the happiest memories of their day trip to MM. Their presence certainly made it very special for both of us.
Today: 3 miles, 2 locks and 2.0 hours.

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