There was certainly ice on the canal in the morning, but I could also see some coots and a goose swimming so there was not complete cover. It was very misty and we were not sure it was looking like any sun was forthcoming. Shane had hoped for nice views at this wide spot but there was not a lot of landscape to see in this weather. I did enjoy watching the gulls standing on the thin ice, with occasional slips through and a quick flap off to try another piece. One, we concluded, either had hot feet or a poor judge of the ice as it repeatedly landed, sank, flapped and tried again.

Some other boats were moving and Shane decided to start off back towards Great Haywood, where fresh bread would be available for lunch. I was trying to finish a cardigan for a great niece, who, I am told, is well above average size and growing fast so a newborn size might not last long. I felt the end was in sight and I might be able to post it at Great Haywood. I got the knitting finished, then went to look for the buttons I had bought at the same time as the wool. It was like a repeat of yesterday, searching cupboards, bags, boxes, nooks and crannies –  to no avail. 

I came out to help Shane moor. He had hoped to pop on to bollards near the water point, as there were plenty of bollards and it is quiet in winter and we would not be long. He left the water point available. But as luck would have it another boat arrived just then and wanted to get in there to access the pump out facility. There was a friendly exchange and we moved to an easy mooring nearby. 

In the shop I saw marmalade oranges, and I wondered if I should be trying to make some this year. I certainly would have to scale down production, having no jam pan nor food processor to help with cutting fruit. When I returned Shane pointed out it would take hours and hours of cooking which would be a bigger drain on the batteries than usual. I also used to use the dishwasher to sterilise jars. I had just put all our glass in the recycling yesterday. I had all the excuses I needed to skip that task.

I shared my frustration at the lost buttons, and Shane said we were 5 miles from Rugeley. We were there in the summer and it had 3 wool or needlecraft shops, but none had been open on that day. If we set off promptly we could get there before 5 and I might find a shop open with buttons there. There were two locks to get through as well, one very soon.

He got going and I appeared just as we were approaching the lock. Shane said he would work it and was steering towards the bank already, he grabbed the windlass and let go of the tiller and jumped off. A couple were walking past and the man said to Shane, “Are you trusting her to drive?” (Just as well I didn’t hear as may have put me off my stroke!) “Always!” he replied … or so he tells me.

From inside the lock I could see it looked like someone had cracked into the cill at some time in the past. The lock itself had metal crosses presumably to keep the stones in place. These all looked well rubbed as they stick out of the walls, though they may also have been rounded to start with.

Coping stone being held by iron cross

We carried on in the mist but some sun was evident and some brightening on one side of the canal. When, later, Shane hopped back off to get ahead for the other lock, I could hear the birds chirping and flitting around as the sun emerged. Just before the lock there was a bridge and I saw another boat coming so I waited for him and waved him through, then when I went through the bridge I thought really it was very much wider than most and we could have passed under the bridge. Still there was no harm done in erring on the side of caution. Shane has been reading today about a “bridge strike”  further ahead on the Trent and Mersey, that happened yesterday. This isn’t a boat striking a bridge though, it is a road vehicle hitting the bridge over the canal and the metal railings and brick towers have fallen into the canal and need to be pulled out and bridge repaired. 

The sun continued to brighten and as the afternoon wore on, the mist did evetually go and blue sky, green fields andthe moon was visible. Shane took over driving and I had a chance to get some sunny winter pictures.

Bridge at a farm
Some sheep feeding on rushes
Outdoor fridge on the gunwhale of the shaded side of a boat.

As we approached Rugeley in the late afternoon, we went over an aquduct over the River Trent. Already we  had misty views again looking up and down the river. Unlike the summer, when this point was full of other boats and pedestrians, we had the place to ourselves.


River Trent

We got to Rugeley around sunset, and in time to get into town and find the sewing shop open, with a large array of buttons. The owner used to live on a narrowboat and sell from there but found it hard to make a living and there is very limited space for stock. I felt embarrassed really that I only parted with 18p. 

So I am pleased that I managed to get the cardigan finished off and can post it tomorrow. Shane has meantime made progress in a woodworking project. It is still a work in progress, but a much shorter job than the tandem cupboard.

Completed grey and magenta cardigan with the all important matching buttons
Slightly more casual cardigan pose