Steppin’out; Solo jolly day 4

Solo Jolly day 4 (6)

It’s been an enjoyable, funny, different sort of day today. With friends meeting me it was always going to be a round trip back to where we started kind of day. Rather overcast and drizzly which actually turned into heavy drizzle and while planning routes on the computer, I’d opened the side hatch as I like to do if I don’t think it’s cold, and looking at map books and raising a hand to passers by, as you do, and this youngish guy sort of stopped and said something about it being cold and raining and I said it didn’t seem cold and I hadn’t realised it was raining and he laughed and said it was  cold when you’d slept out all night and he walked off. I’d assumed he was a boater as he had what I thought was a carrier of rubbish in his hand. He was polite and not threatening and normally well spoken and definitely not aggressive in manner, mid twenties or early. It was seeing a few homeless folks in Leicester about 10 years ago that got me into care work, which I’ve just come out of this year, and now felt like I should have made him a coffee and had a bit of a chat but I find it daunting and while in care always worked with adults with severe learning difficulties in registered care which is a different ball game.Solo Jolly day 4 (11)

Anyway the rain had about stopped my friends were getting nearer so I got ready started her up and I has I was only just down from the lock went up to open the gates as I’d seen a boat come down but when I got there the top gates leaked so it had filled up enough for me not to be able to open the gates and I hadn’t taken my windlass with me. As I was walking back a couple of boats arrived so ended up third in the queue. Next time I will move my boat up. 

Once through Haywood lock it’s only a spit up to the junction with the Staffs and Worcs and stopped and picked my friends up. It was by now about 11 am but I’d sorted a little route out so we didn’t have to rush or be travelling all the time so we set off up the Trent and Mersey. I just feel that most of the canals I’ve seen are beautiful places to be unless they are running through cities or towns and some of them are pleasantly different. Lovely reeds and trees and fields which if the sun had been out would have been  even nicer but still picturesque.Solo Jolly day 4 (28) Just one lock going up, Hoo Mill lock, and I was explaining to Brian what we needed to do and a boat caught us up so after opening the gates I went back for the boat and this other chap quite happily explained and showed Brian what happens and why. There really are some nice people about, some not so nice and grumpy but we won’t dwell on them. Through the lock and more lovely open countryside. Brian was on his third cup of tea by now. Caroline his wife and me don’t really drink that much tea and coffee so we let him drink alone after the first one. under bridges 77 and 78 then wound in the winding hole and a slow trundle back down to Great Haywood and moored up so we could nip to the shop there. Be very careful with this shop as a loaf of wholemeal bread, which was all I went in for, cost me £11 odd. OK so I added two home made faggots, a bulb of garlic, about a kilo of tomatoes, a jar of Staffordshire honey and a huge two scoop ice cream waffle cone, Cherry and Passion fruit which was delicious. So if you’re passing through or near Great Haywood this canal side farm shop on Mill Lane also does a selection of fresh veg, cheeses, cooked meats, fresh meats, fresh bread, home-made cakes large and small and all as far as I know of very good quality, not cheap but not too bad. So this is place to be avoided as you will spend more than you intended unless you’re of the iron willed brigade or devoid of any taste buds. It is a diet breaking shop.

Solo Jolly day 4 (12)From here we had to go about 50 yards and turn right into the Staffs and Worcs canal. At the junction the T&M is very wide, the bridge is high and wide and the S&W is quite wide compared to some junctions I’ve seen and there was no wind to speak off. Don’t you feel a plonker when you miss it by a country mile and have to use reverse to get enough room to spin it round and she’s only 50 ft. Never mind I’ll get another go sometime. Over the narrow aqueduct and onto the canal proper and there on the left is an almost submerged day cruiser which would have sunk further but it was on the bottom. Does the C&RT come round and fish these boats out or are they just left there for ever. There seemed to be quite a few sunken boats around Manchester.

Down then a short distance to the Tixall wide. As we approached  there was a mooring so we took that in case there weren’t any more further down. There was a long line of boats which didn’t look to have any spaces. Popped a light under the steak and kidney in the oven and we had a walk down the wide where there were some spaces further down. It’s quite nice down there but was as stated above quite busy. 

Solo Jolly day 4 (18)For anyone interested we only had mashed potato with our steak and kidney, whipped with butter and milk, potatoes should be just under cooked so they can be well mashed and handle the butter and milk without going gooey. Even though I say so my self it was bloody lovely and Brian and Caroline said so too. Wash the pots after a cuppa and wind round and back to Great Haywood where upon re-entering the T&M we couldn’t find anywhere to more. I hate to think what it’s like in the summer. We couldn’t find anywhere and were back at the lock near Shugborough so they walked it back to the car and I decided to go through and then find somewhere to more as there is a long stretch from the lock so shouldn’t be a problem.

As I moored up the boat to go back and close the gates I saw the same guy from this morning sitting on bench seat a bit down the canal so after I’d been thinking about it part of the day I was now faced with a dilemma. I could just have ignored him and trundled off down the canal. I could have stopped and offered him a drink and a chat, which I’m not sure I was ready for so I took the easier option of greeting him and asking if he had any money, which he hadn’t, so gave him a few pounds and though he seemed like he  would welcome a bit of time and a chat as much as the money I said see ya and moved off. A chat would have been good for him I think. I need to look into doing a bit of voluntary work somewhere now I’m not in care. All this philosophical stuff is for my benefit and can be ignored by the reader if you wish to. It does show that we all come from many walks of life and the canals and surrounding areas contain life in all its diverse and many coloured facets. Sometimes you get a second chance to make a bit of difference to someone this was a very quick second chance. 

Solo Jolly day 4 (29)The light beginning to fade as I neared Colwich lock and found a nice place to moor up among a few other boats. Might be a bit close to the train line  but should be OK. Nice aspect out over the fields. A couple of glasses of Scottish flavoured water and lost internet connection so that’s why I’m finishing this off this morning. I did sleep well.


May God bless you all and lead you into places where you’ve always wanted to go, really.

Have a great day and I’ll see you tonight.



Useful Information
Our Nige

55 years old. I work in registered care as a care assistant and have my house up for sale and when sold will be buying a narrowboat of some kind to live on. Been a bit of a dream of mine for many years. Don't know for certain if I'll like it but I'm really looking forward to it and think that I will. I have been looking at boats and reading and talking to people over the last 6 to 9 monts and sometimes I feel like I might know what layout I want. I will be on a restricted budget of about 25 to 35k and will be looking for advice and tips to help me make a fair start on the water.

Paul Smith - Thursday,26 September, 2013

I’m all for helping those who are down on their luck but, like you, I am very cautious. I once offered a job to a guy who stood outside my local supermarket every day for about eight hours at a time selling the Big Issue in all weather. He was very polite when he refused the offer. He said that he couldn’t handle the pressure of working and would probably end up harming himself. He rolled up his sleeves to show me dozens of scars on the inside of his arms, many of them only partly healed. I couldn’t think of anything appropriate so say so I bought a Big Issue off him and walked off.

We don’t have many homeless people where we are in rural Warwickshire but there is one, and he’s very well known to the boating community. During the summer he sleeps rough in a dilapidated barn in the middle of a local farmer’s field. Every day, rain or shine, he walks along the main road to Southam, turns around and walks all the way to Daventry, turns round again and walks back to his field. He does this with a 40lb pack on his back and both hands full of plastic bags.

In the colder months he becomes a bit of a problem for boaters and subsequently for the police. He doesn’t like sleeping rough in the winter. He prefers the comfort of a prison cell. He secures his winter accommodation by breaking into moored boats and stealing food or drink. He carried on doing it until he’s arrested and imprisoned.

He always looks clean and tidy and, at first glance, no different from you or I. It’s only when you hear him talk you realise that there’s something seriously wrong. He sounds quite eloquent until you realise that none of the words he speaks are in the right order or relevant to the conversation anyone is trying to have with him.

When I see people like him, and the millions less fortunate than him, I realise just how lucky I am to be born in this day and age, born in the UK, to be working and to be sound in mind and body.


MikeEaves - Thursday,26 September, 2013

Lovin reading about your travels Nige.

A couple of weeks ago I was looking at boats at Great Haywood Marina and I too fell foul of the dreaded farm shop.

I only went in for a pork chop for my tea and came out with two carrier bags.

Heavy on the waste line and wallet


I see a lot homeless people on the streets in Birminham, and you would like to help them all, but a couple of quid and a smile is usually the most you can do.


That is except for the lad who I see regularly begging in Birmingham Bull Ring with his penny whistle and dog.

I usually drop a couple of pounds in his cap, but no more.

The last time I passed a mobile phone rang and out of his pocket came an iphone4!

 I went to get my money back but the dog had been trained for such events.


Anyway the way things are going at the moment that could be me soon so don’t forget the price of a cuppa tea!Laugh


Keep floating





Our Nige - Friday,27 September, 2013

Thanks for that gentlemen it helps to put things in perspective when others share their experiences too. It’s a shame in some ways there aren’t more proper shops selling real food as I like most things in my life to be real, ale, food, people to name probably the top three. But the waist line and wallet as you say Mike would take a bit of a beating. Right I’d better get up and about before the day has passed me by.

Many thanks



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