I don't know whether you've been following the adventures of Lucy Belle (you really should) as Jemma the Dog and her intrepid crew of narrowboat novices tackle the Soar in flood and other obstacles between Pillings Lock and Lucy Belle's new mooring at Bugsworth. Such boldness deserves to be rewarded with Jasper's finest buns, so at luncthime we set off, pausing only to purchase said buns, for Handsacre, where we parked in the car park of the Crown, which was to be our rendezvous this evening.
From there we set off for a much needed walk in the direction of Alrewas, whence Lucy Belle had set off (and, being from Burton, they can even pronounce it properly, whereas we stick with the tried and tested 'Old Walrus'). We'd gone about two and a half miles when we decided to stop and wait at Wood End lock. The weather was certainly much improved on the last few days, although everything's relative and it was still pretty damn cold. Quite a few (well, about half a dozen) boats were moving towards Great Haywood, but only one the other way. After two other boats, Lucy Belle appeared on the horizon, so after the lock we hitched a lift back towards Handsacre, passing Chertsey's old mooring at Kings Bromley Wharf on the way. The piece of ploythene sheet I attached to the guttering downpipe to discourage it from discharging into Chertsey's hold is still there, I was pleased to see, but wasn't surprised to note that no one else has taken up that particular mooring.
On arrival at Handsacre we went into the dog-friendly Crown, but didn't find it particularly alluring. On paper (ok, on t'internet) there's not a lot to choose between this pub and the main alternative, the Old Peculiar - and the only available beer, Bass, gave no cause for complaint. But there was just a general atmosphere of not-quite-rightness, and despite their website's promise of fresh local food, no one was eating. So we moved on to the Old Peculiar, and you could tell as soon as you walked in the door that this was a different kettle of fish - warm, welcoming and busy, with every table reserved for the regular quiz, but they squeezed us in for a quick meal which was good solid pub food at a reasonable price.
It did feel good to be back on the towpath and working the odd lock again I must say, even though I'm sure we wouldn't have been thinking that if we'd been doing it earlier in the week. So many thanks to Jemma and her crew on Lucy Belle, and bon voyage to Bugsworth.