Having provisioned at Morrison’s we remained at the Leek mooring overnight on Thursday 23rd August, returning to Bridge 3 lower down on the branch, where there was a turning point. Then we moored for the night facing back in the direction of Leek, just beyond the aqueduct and overlooking the ‘Hollybush Inn’ down on the towpath of the Froghall Branch.
In the car park of the pub on Saturday morning we had arranged to meet friends who were arriving to stay for the weekend. They were independent of each other and would be arriving in separate cars but they had both booked the bank holiday weekend to visit.
The reunion of old shipmates
Mel was a friend of Janis from Nottingham and would be staying on board with her while Alan was over here for a while from Geelong in Australia and had been a shipmate of mine way back in 1960, when we had served as cadets together on the ‘Ulster Star’.
We became firm friends during that voyage to South America and back but over the years had slowly lost touch during the course of our busy lives. He emigrated to Australia not long after that voyage but recently we had managed to reconnect via the internet. About a month ago he had returned to the UK to visit family and friends so it became a good opportunity to renew our old friendship. After forty odd years I wondered whether we would recognise each other.
The reunion was no problem at all though and I think we both agreed that over the years, time had made us only greyer and a little bit thinner on top from those young and heady days in 1960.
Alan, Mel and myself
Mel I had met only once before very briefly, when Janis and I were invited to a barbeque in Long Eaton earlier in the year. On this occasion as the last she was lovely and great fun to be with for the whole weekend. All four of us seemed to get along well with each other.
The following day we fired up our engines and took our guests for a two hour cruise to the end of the branch at Leek and back again but this time returning as far as Hazelhurst Junction and descending the three locks down onto the Froghall Branch. We were able to moor for the night right outside the ‘Hollybush Inn’.
It had been a good day; the weather had been kind to us and later that evening Janis and I took Alan and Mel for a meal at the ‘Hollybush Inn’. It turned into a very happy little party, which I enjoyed enormously. The pub was very busy and our relaxed happiness was very evident.
Alan, myself and Janis
The weather on the Sunday was not as kind so we stayed put on ‘Roots and Wings’ all morning drinking tea, coffee and later on wine. As the rain drummed incessantly on the roof, all four of us were happy to chat, yarn about old times and joke about the new until the noise began to ease by the afternoon.
We went for a short rather wet country walk and later Alan regretfully had to leave. Mel stayed for a further night but had to return to Nottingham on Monday afternoon.
Janis and I agreed that it had been a very happy weekend for us both.