Well, we got back a week ago, but I've finally got around to writing this. The trip was a great success, all things considered. The idea was to bring Warrior from Hargrave (Golden Nook) near Chester to Stretton Wharf (near Wolverhampton) where she will be craned out of the water and the engine will be craned out through the roof, loaded onto a trailer, and taken down to Russell Newbery at Daventry for, possibly, a complete rebuild but hopefully something short of that.
Clearly then, the engine is in need of some attention, which is why we approached the trip with some trepidation. In fact, we had never even been able to get it to run consistently before, and hardly ever managed to start it. In the run up to last week we'd had lots of visits and advice from Ian from the Russell Newbery Register, and he turned out for one last time on the Sunday for a final sort out.
So we were holding our breath on Monday morning as Jim wielded the priming tool and and got the valves squeaking and with the (very judicious) application of Easi-Start (everyone's guilty secret) , she started, and didn't stop again for the next ten hours. The main problems, once started, were an unreliable governer (although it wasn't as bad once we'd got started as we'd feared) and an increasingly slippy gearbox, making it hard to control the boat's speed and stopping ability.
To add to our enjoyment, this was the weekend of the working boat gathering at Ellesmere Port, and on our way south we passed many of them going up - literally running into at least one, but they said it had had worse!
On the Monday we cruised for ten hours non-stop (except for locks) getting up the Audlem flight before stopping at 7 pm. The weather was lovely so we made the most of it ar rain was forecast for the next day. Sure enough, Tuesday was wet, but the engine started first time, and we cruised for seven hours before stopping for the night at Gnosall, where we had dinner at the Boat Inn. Nice chips. We passed the other canalside pub on the way but didn't fancy the the smell of chip fat emanating from it. On Wednesday morning Lockboy and I made an excursion into Gnosall to try to find a shop - we eventually found a Co-op, but it was a long way!
So it was on Wednesday, a full day ahead of schedule, that we arrived at Stretton Wharf. With the gearbox really getting out of hand we struggled a bit, but ended up moored behind TV star Dover. We spent all of Thursday there, before setting off by car on Friday to Ellesmere Port. Friday was a lovely sunny day and our day watching the working boats arrive, patronising the beer tent and meeting up with people we met on the way down made it very enjoyable. The museum itself was a disappointment however; the promised 'new' displays were the same ones we'd seen at Christmas. Lovely as the staff are at the museum - and I can't fault any of them - I have to agree with Phil Speight's recent comments (in Canal Boat magazine) about the trustees' priorities.