The curtains were opened early this morning and it was very tempting to shut them straight away and go back to sleep. Grey skies, rain and wind greeted us, but the forecast was for an improving day and so we were soon up and way towards Stoke wrapped up in some warm wet weather clothing.
The five Stoke locks were all with us and no queues, but plenty waiting at the top lock to travel down. We headed on towards Harecastle Tunnel and were soon being 'chased down' by another boat. Now we don't travel what I would call slowly, but this guy was catching us hand over fist. Personally, I'd rather let quicker boats pass as I'm not keen on having a boat sitting on the back button, so as soon as an opportunity presented itself, I slowed right down and signalled for the steerer to pass. Now if we overtake another moving boat we do it slowly so that it makes it easy for both of us, but not this guy. Full steam ahead as he passed and to make it worse radio on full blast....it had to be that way so he could hear it over the engine.
Another couple of miles up to the tunnel portal and it turned out there were five boats ahead of us. As we arrived we knew it was midday as the news came on the radio.....not ours you understand, but our friend who was now moored ahead of us. We commented on the fact that at least he wouldn't get a radio signal in the tunnel !!
|Queuing at Southern Portal|
We had a wait of about half an hour before the oncoming boats had all emerged and we started to enter. We were tail end Charlie and all boats left a decent gap between. The fans were soon on and the air rushing back past us. The going was pretty slow and before long the sound of the fans was soon over ridden by the sound of music !! No radio signal, but we were 'treated' to the greatest hits of Nat King Cole for the entire length of the tunnel. Bearing in mind you have the noise of boat engines to contend with in such a small space, Louise could name half the songs as the music was so loud and clear (slightly worrying I have to say). It was certainly a different experience. We have travelled through Harecastle many times, but never accompanied by music. Maybe CaRT could consider a speaker system and play relaxing music for those not keen on tunnel travel or maybe they could just issue this joker with an ASBO !!
The journey was indeed a slow one. The tunnel keeper at the northern end informed us that the second boat through had held everyone up and had emerged 16 minutes after the lead boat. Maybe the lead boat didn't like Nat King Cole and the second one did ?? Thankfully most of the boats ahead stayed on the T&M and we turned left at Hardings Wood Junction, leaving our resident DJ on nb Eigerdancer to 'entertain' the other boats queuing at the locks.
|If only our pictures had sound !!|
Peace and quiet now regained, we headed up to the stop lock at Hall Green and then dropped onto the water point just beyond.
|Hall Green Stop Lock - onto The Macc.|
We were joined by nb AreandAre, a boat whose blog we follow. We soon got chatting to Barry who runs his Home Brewing business from the boat and I wasn't going to resist trying a sample of 'Evil Dog' at 7.1%.
We enjoyed a chat whilst our tank filled and we shall be in touch on our return home as Louise likes the sound of trying to brew some wine which only takes five days to make, so she won't have to wait long !! We wished Barry well and headed off, soon passing Ramsdell Hall dating back to around 1760 and built by the Lowndes family before we moored up for the night near to bridge 81 in a lovely spot.