I genuinely got a day out of sync today, thinking it was Thursday. I quite like that.
I'd acquired a bit of oscillation in the transmission of the boat, so got Mike of M&L Services to have a look first thing. The ring that clamps on the prop shaft was slightly loose, and off-centre; he tightened it up and it was still off centre; there's significantly less oscillation now, but certainly something to be looked at in the autumn when the boat's out for blacking. Mike was great - talked me through everything, we discussed the origins of the boat and all sorts of stuff, and the amount he wanted to charge me was so low I upped it a bit... like Mike who has already done a lot of the work on my boat, he works for himself so has to be good - he has to live on his reputation - and knows everyone. I was amused to learn that the 'L' in the name was Linda the lockeeper at Hurleston who saw us in; runner up in best lockeeper of the year 2007, too, a certificate there says.
Otherwise then, onwards and outwards - the kids/youths/whatever who'd been working their way from Llangollen to Swanley by rowing boat shared a few locks with me. They're doing a Duke of Edinburgh award, and are limited in the amount of help they're allowed to recieve, but sharing locks is of course fine - in fact to not do so would be antisocial...
Then down through Hurleston, behind a hire boat who sometimes remembered to close the gates behind themselves, sometimes not. The bottom one was quite tight, and at one point I thought Tortoise was going to get stuck; thankfully not, although I must measure the beam properly; I thought she was pretty narrow, but perhaps not, at the front, anyway. I then managed to lose the centre rope and she drifted away from the ladder, leaving me having to jump down on her roof - not something I'm keen on, but when it has to be done, it's done.
back on the Shropshire then - big, wide, straight and frankly a little boring in places. I stopped in Nantwich for my usual explore - charity shops, food, that kind of thing. When I cycled through a decade ago I found a great pub with loads of vegan food - one of the couple who ran it was vegan - and was working on a long shot they were still there. I'm pretty sure it was the Red Cow, the current landlord 'hadn't be there' long and 'had no idea'. The menu was fairly generic pub faire; had it been still as was I would have stayed for the night, but as it was I moved on, and am moored at the bottom of the Audlem flight - that's fifteen locks for me to do in the morning. Makes a change from long straight wide boring canal, 'spose. ;-)
The Nicholson guide maps are OS map based, which I like. On the map a label said 'secret nuclear bunker' which looked a little oxmoronic - when I saw brown tourist signs to it too, I guess it wasn't that secret. Then again I remember when a minor industrial plant called Sellafield I grew up next to was just a blank space on maps - crazy.
Looking ahead, it's funny to think I'm heading towards Birmingham fairly quickly, and could be there at the weekend. I'll hopefully find time for a walk round, they've tarted it up a bit since I was there last. I'll also be passing through Aston junction & Digbeth, both close to student housing in the late eighties, strange.
Another evening of no 3G coverage, by the way, so I'm writing this to be posted when I find some. It's an odd situation, I can often get a basic GPRS connection that allows websites (including reading email via webmail) but not forms (such as blog posting).
Pressing the right buttons - Most of the locks we have encountered on the Nene so far have had a guillotine gate at the downstream side, with conventional "vee doors" as they call them...
21 hours ago