14 April 2010

Down memory lane

Going off air last Easter meant that I was unable to share with you the highlights of our three week relocation from Nantwich to Sowerby Bridge. Of course, the original plan had never been to stop at SB, merely to linger, but as stated previously, life got in the way, followed by the weather, and hey ho, it’s Easter 2010 before we’re getting high on diesel fumes again.

But the great memories of June’s trip still linger…the failed starter battery on Monday morning and the kindness of the gang at King’s Lock chandlery in getting us going again…the slow, steady climb up a mysteriously quiet Heartbreak Hill…Monty escaping at Bosley Top and yours truly putting in a stunning 800m to trap him in a garage..a long blissful weekend secreted in Bugsworth Basin with the added bonus of a visit from the Snecklifter Holloways…a magnificent march down Marple in the sunshine…

our first taste of the magnificent Huddersfield Narrow in the pouring rain (A says it’s a fine 20 mile walk – don’t think he actually bothered getting back on the boat at all)…A’s teensy weensy temper tantrum with the paddles on the Diggle flight (calm down, dear, kicking and swearing won’t get you anywhere except A&E)…a truly awesome passage through Standedge tunnel in the company of Fred the oracle, with no bits missing at the end…oh, and a busted bog at Huddersfield.

Sadly A has not learnt the truth of the adage ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’. I asked him whether he may have casually chucked a Flash Strongweave wipe down the bowl (he has previous with a square of Bounty) and he had the brass neck to deny it. So what’s this I see as pipes and valves are taken apart? Oh look, it’s a Flash Strongweave, I wonder how that got there. Cue my exit stage right to Costa Coffee in high dudgeon while he got on with fixing the ruddy thing. As it happened, the fixing took four days as we had to wait for parts so I was immensely grateful to J Sainsbury for thoughtfully providing a loo adjacent to the canal. Okay, the loo was in the superstore and after about my 6th visit, I did take to switching bandanas in a bid to change my identity and avoid suspicion – ‘Look, it’s that serial loo user who doesn’t make any guilt purchases’. But I can tell you that Huddersfield is a great place to get stuck – the guys at Aspley Marina were helpful and chatty, the neighbours were cheery and welcoming, the natives friendly and very interested in our dogs, and the town itself, with its wide streets and imposing architecture still shows off its mantle of old mill town glory.

But hospitable as it was, after a while we were keen to get going so it was a huge relief when Thunderbirds were go ie the vacuum came up to pressure and gave a fine ripsnorter of a suck to clear the contents of the bowl. There has never been a sound as sweet…especially as I didn’t fancy my chances of making it across the bridge with my legs crossed…

So onwards to Sowerby Bridge and more memories…where were you when you heard Michael Jackson was dead? Er, on the Huddersfield Broad fiddling with my fenders…then the world of the handspike (it’s official – there is something A knows how to do that I don’t! An unhealthy precedent…)…the discovery of possibly the world’s, well, Yorkshire’s best coffee shop in Brighouse (I was tempted to stuff another Strongweave down the loo so we could stay longer and keep sampling the wares…and that obliging chap Mr Sainsbury had put another loo next to the cut, so it was a feasible plan)…the ceremonial moment when we passed the site of the 2002 National recalling our promise to ourselves back then - you will go the ball, Cinders, but under your own steam next time and not on the back of a lorry...and our final triumphant arrival in Sowerby Bridge, where we celebrated by visiting the Mongolian Barbecue restaurant and eating everything on the menu (well, I’d been on very short commons so you can hardly blame me. Didn’t know Mongolians liked sticky toffee pudding though…

And it was with heavy hearts – and heavy stomachs – that we beat a retreat the next morning. One day our journey won’t have an end as we’ll be cruising continuously but on this occasion, as on all the others, we headed for home with happy memories, dirty socks and a leaky pint of milk.

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