The gossip in the village shop at Gnosall was accurate for once and Saturday morning saw a covering of snow on the village and the canal.
As I've now mastered the art of keeping the stove alight all night for this year (I have to re-learn it each winter!) I was snug and warm and set to on the main reason for coming to the boat, which was to drain the water system for the winter. Last year we suffered a burst pipe under the sink and the year before that our Paloma water heater received terminal damage from a heavy frost. This year therefore I made doubly-sure as best I could that there was no water left in the pipes, that the heater was drained and that I lagged those bits of exposed pipe I could reach.
Even by early afternoon the mooring ropes were still frozen when time came to return to Norbury and I had a devil of the job to untie. Even worse, they were, of course, still frozen when I arrived 45 minutes later and if you thought untying a boat with frozen lines was hard work, just try tying one up! No doubt when the thaw comes my lines will be far too loose, but there won't be too much passing traffic on the Shroppie to disturb them and if it gets too bad I know one of the other moorers will re-tie for me.
I won't be stopping using Starcross over the winter, but I'll just have to get used to the lack of running water. No doubt I'll be reaching automatically for a dry tap for some time and it's a bit of a nuisance having to fetch and carry all the boat's water in a jerrycan, but after all, the old boaters had to manage all year round with just a couple of cans on the roof, so I'm not complaining.
At least I did the job in time; it was -6C when I left Norbury last night - and that was only just after dark.