(5th, 6th & 7th Nov 2011)As both Dawn and I were off work on the Monday we decided to have a week end off boating and we decided to surprise our good friends Viv & Si off Monarch and
and Keith Browne off Touchwood a motorised BCN day boat who we knew were tied up at the bottom of Stone. This also gave Dawn the opportunity to do something she had not yet tried, Night Boating. Saturday morning I got everything ready and loaded into the car including food, drink and clothing so that when Dawn came home from work we could head straight off. Dawn got back just after 1.00pm and after a quick call to Aldi for extra shopping we were on the boat and heading down to Haywood Junction to wind by 1.45pm. I love Winter boating! Mainly as there are very few others about most of the hire boats are back at their hire centres and most of the private boats are back in their marina’s for the Winter, just leaving the ‘live a boards’ and the hardened cruisers. As we locked up through Weston lock the light was just starting to fade and by the time we got up to Grimsby it was dark and time for the headlight. As we passed the small online ‘marina’ above Weston lock the residents were just preparing for their bonfire party and had built quite a large bonfire on top of which was an excellent ‘Guy’ in the form of Osama Binladen which had me in stitches much to the amusement of the 20 or so assembled in a gazebo sat on white plastic patio chairs. As we passed I shouted “you gonna burn him then?” which amused them even more. Soon we were locking up Sandon lock then bouncing our way along the terrible pound up to Aston lock with it’s really shallow scour from the lock by-wash. Half hour later , at about 7.00pm we were pulling alongside Gimsby at Whitebridge Park and mooring for the weekend right next to the Scout headquarters where they were holding the official Stone bonfire and fireworks display.. Our timing was perfect as the bonfire and fireworks were at 7.30pm so, when once the boat was sorted out we all stood on the towpath and had a ringside view as the huge bonfire was ignited and for the next half hour over £5,000 worth of fireworks lit the sky above us, they were awesome. Salt Bridge
The awesome firework display
By 8.30 all had finished so we made our way up the canal to Stone bottom lock and The Star pub where there was an open fire (after we had lit it!) and the beer was good and the company very friendly, only complaint was the service tended to be a bit slow, but apart from that a good night was had. By 11.20pm the barman was after our glasses so we drank up and left not wishing to outstay our welcome. On spilling out onto the towpath, we were serenaded by the sound of a live rock band at the pub just up the road, The Swan, and so we followed our feet across the lock and up the road to enter into a packed house which was absolutely jumping. With drinks from the bar we secured some seats and enjoyed the last half hour of the show. I stuck to the Guinness but Browny had some Black Rat cider at 8% which looked like
Orange juice! While the rest stuck with the Old Rosey (Jim & Sarah off Chertsey and Bakewell would have loved the choice of about 15 real ales on offer) We finally left the Swan at about 1.00am and tottered back to the boats agreeing that we would all go up to Wetherspoons for breakfast the following morning. Sunday morning came quite late for us all, due to the previous evenings frolics, and so it saw me cooking bacon butties and coffee for everyone as we had decided to have dinner at Witherspoons instead. At about 11.30am we all headed off up into the town and went into Wetherspoons for our Sunday roast and value for money I must say. A choice of roast beef, pork or chicken Yorkshire pudding, seasoning, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, cauliflower and a pint for £6.50. Suitably fed we stopped on for a couple of pints (well it would be rude not to) then we ambled back through the town down to the canal, stopping of in The Swan for a couple of pints (well it would be rude not to) then on leaving there we crossed Star Lock and popped into The Star for the last couple more pints ( again very rude not to) finally heading back to the boats at about 6.30pm where we all assembled in Browny’s boat for a Spag Bog cooked by Viv. Then, suitably fed again we were up and off again going back to The Star for the rest of the night for a quiet evening chatting and having a laugh with the locals and other customers. By 11.00am on the Monday morning we were up and off, winding just below the bottom lock and heading back to our mooring at Great Haywood having had an extremely enjoyable weekend in good company.