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The travels of narrow boat Racundra

Home again, home again

Tuesday 28th October
Kings Lock, Middlewich

We have arranged to meet Mark, our purchaser, again today and the plan was to motor up to Middlewich and moor somewhere near Bridge 166 so that he could join us. It was only a couple of miles so we were moored up outside Booth Lane Convenience Store rather earlier than arranged. Glyn texted Mark to let him know. We had a little time to have a clean round and tidy up but we with the end of our trip getting ever nearer we have generally been keeping everything up together.

Mark arrived after lunch and seemed as pleased as before with his proposed acquisition. We spent several hours just going over all the details and supplying information. Glyn had a list of things to make sure we told him and he had his own questions to ask. It was all a bit overwhelming for him. There seemed such a lot to learn! Of course when we took on the boat we had about half-an-hour of the engineer’s time at Venetian and the rest of it we found out for ourselves, but when you try to pass on 7 months experience in a couple of hours it does seem a lot.

Mark elected not to travel along with us as he was a little worried about where he had left his car and as it turned out it was a good decision – within an hour it was raining quite heavily. As a result we only travelled as far as the next lock. King’s Lock immediately precedes the junction with the Middlewich Branch and there is good mooring all along the approach to the lock. This is the location of the annual Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival which will next take place on the 19-21 June in 2015.

King's Lock

There is a pub that overlooks the lock which is not surprisingly named the King’s Lock. After Glyn checked it out we decided to eat there tonight. The pub owner is passionate about both Folk and Boats and the pub has a similar theme. He took on the establishment 5 months ago and decided to go independent and showcase local ales and locally sourced food. The quality of the food was excellent and we would certainly recommend it. Good luck to Dean and his team in the future.

Wednesday 29th October
(4L 1669.12M +20.5H)
Venetian Marina, Cholmondeston

All that remains today is to turn left onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal and make our way back to the marina where it all began. Although we have retraced our steps once or twice over the year this, in a significant sense, is the first time when we have joined up the loop. When we last came along here we had just cast off the security net of the marina and begun our continuous cruise of the English & Welsh canal system. We had not intended to round out our trip in this way but when Mark told us that he wanted to moor at Venetian I was perfectly happy to deliver Racundra for him.

Leaving Middlewich

Middlewich BranchMiddlewich BranchIt was cold first thing and I was well wrapped up but as the morning developed the sun came out and Glyn joined me on the back of the boat for a very pleasant and gentle cruise. We weren’t to know it last time we were here but in many ways this stretch of canal bears comparison with some of the better places we have had the pleasure to have cruised this year. The bridges are picturesque and amongst the narrower ones that we have encountered. There are three locks between the junction and the marina, which are well spaced out – one immediately after the junction, another on the outskirts of Middlewich and the last one in splendid isolation out in the middle of the country. Quite a few boats were on the move – it being school half-term and we passed three Anglo-Welsh boats travelling in convoy sporting large numbers of young people which reminded us of Penny & Ian’s early canal boat experiences. Numbers of other hire boats were also heading back towards their bases – a last fling before the winter stoppages start to bite. (I suspect the earlier convoy was causing the other boats to become backed up.)

We arrived at our last lock, Glyn drove in – almost perfectly. We were both very aware of the significance and wanted everything to be just right! After stopping for lunch we completed the final mile, noting the places we had walked with Charlie while based at the marina, before pulling up opposite Venetian. Glyn rang Zoe to let her know we had arrived and she came out to show us where to moor. I was a little annoyed that Zoe had refused to let us know before time and she indicated a berth in just about the most difficult place to access that there was.

This mooring area cannot be accessed in the direction from which we had arrived and still feeling confident I decided to reverse in from where we had stopped. We managed the first part with me fending off from a moored boat along the way and I continued to reverse the stern of the boat into the mouth of the berth. However, a breeze was blowing and steadily pushing the bow away. It was soon clear to me that we weren’t going to get the boat in and I grabbed the pole and went down the side of the boat to push the bow round. The bottom consisted of thick sticky mud and our pole is short. I couldn’t get the boat to move and it continued to swing in against the adjacent moorings. We were now close enough to the ends of the moorings for me to put the pole against the pontoon and push.

The next thing I knew was that I was in the water with my coat inflated around me and I was trying to pull myself out onto the pontoon. A fellow moorer arrived looking concerned and offering to help. I dragged myself out and pushed the boat with the pole from the safety of the pontoon. He swung the boat from the stern and we got in. I was really cross – entirely with myself. At the final minute, on the final day I had finally fallen in – despite several failed attempts during the course of the year! I had broken my own rule and not spent time working out how to complete a manoeuvre before starting. There were so many better ways of doing it. The simplest would have been to use the space in the marina to turn the boat around and come in forwards – it would have been simple. But even at the later stages I could easily have taken the stern to dry land and used ropes to move the boat into the berth. I was so fed up.

Glyn took all my clothes off to the washing machine. A good thing as the work trousers and my fleece have been lived in all year. My trainers were thick with mud so they got a good wash too. In fact I was wet only to just above my waist so there was no danger of my having ingested any canal water. It wasn’t until I took off my trousers that I realised that my camera had been in the pocket and although my pride had been damaged I will recover, I’m not so sure about the camera. Actually it has been in need of a bit of internal cleaning but I’m not sure this is the right way to go about it! What a sad way to end our trip.

Never mind – onward and upward. Our next task is to pack the contents of our boat into our little car which Glyn had cunningly arranged to be parked just outside. So while she did more washing I made a start on getting packed up. I managed to get all my tools off the boat and into the car. Glyn renewed her acquaintance with several of the staff. Alec, the engineer, was pleased to see her and wondered whether we might like to make a habit of buying and selling boats there – two commissions for the same boat in less than 12 months is good business for them. We had a final dinner on board and then settled down for a quiet evening leaving the bulk of the packing for the morning.

Thursday 30th October
Leigh, Stone

Packing got underway with a vengeance. Pretty much all my clothes (most of which I hadn’t worn) went into a Cabin Max bag – the size that you can take as hand luggage on an aeroplane – and to be fair most of Glyn’s went into hers. Three Tesco Wine boxes got packed with kitchen utensils, foodstuffs and books. At this point I was feeling fairly optimistic.

But then there was a continuous stream of all the other things that didn’t fit anywhere else. Bags of coats, waterproof trousers, hats, scarves and gloves; wellington boots, walking boots, trainers and sandals; casserole dishes, chopping boards, nested mixing bowls, electric blender, kitchen scales; two double quilts, pillows and bedding; towels, torch, television and thermos; washing up bowl of cleaning materials, a bucket and an orchid, and a very wet camera. Amazingly it all went in to the little car even to the extent that I was still going to be able to see out the rearview mirror. We could have taken more but I was starting to stress about the weight – the springs of our Xsara Picasso are not in their first flush of youth after nearly 100,000 miles. I eventually gave in and allowed Glyn to take her rather waterlogged tub of “pinks” and rosemary if she agreed to have it at her feet.

We finished up and took the keys down to reception to complete the paperwork. Although we had found our buyer and agreed the price Venetian are going to handle the sale and take their full brokerage fee for doing so. This was to give Mark peace of mind and he is bearing the bulk of the cost, so we can’t complain. The forms and bill of sale that I completed are standard and could have been obtained elsewhere for no cost. However, I do understand Mark’s nervousness and would have felt the same way as a buyer. The transaction was carried out very professionally. Mark arrived and was given time to view the boat on his own now that she was empty – so no tricks up our sleeves! We did leave him with various bits and pieces that we didn’t want to pack or were of no use to us. We left him to complete his side of the transaction and make arrangements to transfer the money while we went to the cafe for lunch, where he joined us. We then went back to the boat and spent more time explaining things – we filled up with water and showed him how the shore power hooked up.

The handover

Eventually we had to go. After taking some pictures with our reserve camera we dragged ourselves away and left for the last time. Obviously we were very pleased that the sale of Racundra had gone so smoothly and our plan had all worked to perfection, but equally were sad to part with our very comfortable home and what had been a mostly relaxed and definitely enjoyable way of life, well away from the normal stresses in our lives. We don’t intend to try to repeat our experience as we both think it would be a mistake so we are heading off for new adventures – we just aren’t yet sure what.

One last picture

We have been invited by our new friends Pat and Stewart to stay for a couple of nights on our way to Cambridge and we are looking forward to meeting up with them again. You can guarantee the conversation will be mostly boating!

And with that this daily blog comes to an end and the story of Racundra’s voyages must be taken up by a new owner …


  1. Fabulous trip, can’t wait to see where you end up next year?

    • We haven’t decided yet but we are wondering whether we might try to do something in the Med …

  2. Perhaps not in a barge?

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