Stretton to Penkridge. By car, ten minutes. By boat, ten hours. But here we are, and with barely a hitch along the way. The worst thing that happened was going aground a few times - only one of which gave us any real difficulty, and we still got off, unaided, in the end. The good things - too numerous to mention. The sunshine; the engine running without a stutter, the way the boat handles - like a dream. It stops. It goes backwards. It steers going backwards. It steers in neutral. It is very responsive to 'rowing' the tiller. It goes exactly where you want it to. I nudged a couple of locks; I scraped lightly around one or two bridgeholes. But I can honestly say I didn't hit anything (except occasionally the bottom). It's bloody brilliant.
We left Stretton at about nine fifteen and just went without stopping, eating hummous and crisps for lunch and drinking juice... by the time we stopped we weren't half ready for a cup of tea. First thing was to fire up the Primus (a skill exclusive to Jim, at present) and, to avoid having to boil the kettle twice, make a big pot of tea, six teabags for two mugs each; it's a long time since a cup of tea tasted that good. Then after we'd eaten our supper sitting out on the towwpath in our new lurid pink and lilac folding chairs, the landlord of the local pub, the Cross Keys, came down, very enterprisingly rounding up trade. So we have just been in there wwhere they had a man playing the piano, and it was actually a very nice pub. I'd always had it in my head that all the pubs in Penkridge, and all M&B pubs, were horrid, but the Cross Keys proves me wrong.
So far, so.... bloody wonderful. Fingers crossed we can keep it up - it's almost too good to be true.
OVERGROUND, UNDERGROUND WOMBERLING FREE
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