Saturday, 16th October: Norbury Junction to Market Drayton
After a wonderful "official" retirement send-off last night involving a special bus to pick me up at the door, an evening in my favourite Hereford pub, some great beer and food and the company not only of my current office colleagues but also people I'd worked with over the years who came from as far away as Northampton, Manchester and even the far north of Scotland it was unsurprisingly not a particularly early start to this fortnight's trip that I've been promising myself for the start of my retirement.
We eventually got away from Norbury at 13.15 or at least I did, as Hilary took the car into Newport to stock up on food and drink for the weekend. She met me at the top of Tyrley locks and we worked down the flight together in 45 minutes, with two in our favour and three "against". By now it was nearly five o' clock so we called it a day at Market Drayton
Sunday, 17th October: Market Drayton to Audlem
My sixtieth birthday! - getting off to a good start with a wonderful Autumn morning of mist and sunshine.
At Adderley locks we bought some free range eggs from the cut-side stall at the top lock
The five locks here took us fifty minutes, but that did include buying the eggs and borrowing a bicycle pump from an uphill boat to pump up the tyres on Hil's folding bike before she rode back to Market Drayton to collect the car. We met up again at Cox's Bank, just below the top two locks of the Audlem flight where, after lunch, Hil completed her painting of the long shaft and gangplank thereby redeeming this promise made last Christmas!
The remaining thirteen locks of the flight took two-and-a-half hours. On the way down we passed narrowboat "Kind of Blue" which I expected to be crewed my an old friend, Trevor", but it appears he has sold it. Tying-up at the bottom we walked back to the Shroppie Fly for a pre-dinner drink - both pub and beer being rather nicer than I remembered them - and then Hil cooked my birthday dinner - Tagine, followed by Jamaican bananas and Roquefort cheese (which only comes out for birthdays, retirements, election victories etc!