What follows will be mostly a lot of photos of bridges. There's not much to look like on the river and I guess I just like bridges or something. For now it's just text, as I have extremely limited internet access here on the boat.
Any hopes that we had of having been magically transformed into early-rising nautical types were swiftly dashed as it turned out that the curtains kept out the light (and the noise from other more enthusiastic boaters) pretty well. I didn't even think about getting out of bed before 9AM, and it wasn't until 10:15 that we set off.
With Captain Dad at the tiller, we passed through the tunnel and over the aquaduct that marks the border, and there was much excitement to be passing into Wales, only stilled when we got to the other side and remembered that we'd already been in Wales, and that meant that we had just made the journey back into Shropshire.
We stopped for morning tea an hour or so later in order to take on water and to prepare ourselves mentally for our first locks. We needn't have been concerned, not only was the process exactly as simple as advertised, the friendly folks from nearby boats lurking about the lock were very encouraging. We should have been more concerned about accidentally dropping one of our mooring pins into the canal, something that would have been vexing if the water was more than about two feet deep, but instead was an amusing opportunity to send Mrs. Owl for a swim while I ineffectually poked about with a boathook.
We pulled in by an old broken railway bridge (it would have been bridge 10W) for a late lunch and then immediately set off after the rumours of afternoon tea at nearby Whittington Castle. The rumours turned out to be true, so we availed ourselves of fresh cherry scones and a decent pot of tea before a quick peek about the ruins and a ramble back to the boat.
Up until this point I'd managed to cleverly avoid steering duties by virtue of hiding at the front of the boat, but after having foolishly wandered to the rear I found myself dragooned and ended up neglecting my photographical duties in favour of manning the tiller. Some folks were trying to sleep, but I quickly fixed that by endeavouring to hit any and every obstacle that the canal-side presented me, so I doubt that I'll be asked to drive again and time soon.
We pulled in for the night after bridge 64 (the numbers reverted back at the Frankton Junction, an arm of the river that we hope to take on the return journey if things go to plan) just before it started to bucket down rain, yet another of the close escapes from the English weather that we've becoming used to on the journey. After a hearty dinner and a short worship service led by Phil on guitar, we've decided not to play a game (there is a first time for everything!). Though internet and phone access is extremely limited, the TV reception is apparently uninterrupted, so my cabin-mates are spending the evening watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince while I type away to you.