Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Visit To Northwich Boat Company

Tuesday finds us back on the Trent and Mersey Canal heading for Sandbach. We are booked in for a 750 hour service as well as having the diesel central heating sorted out and the ballast sorted to level out the boat. All that was wrong with the heating was a blockage in the fuel pipe which was soon blown away! We now have a fairly level boat, which feels quite different- the bed is no longer sloping and tablets stay where you put them rather than roll away. While the work was being done I took Ben the dog for a walk into Sandbach about two miles and caught the bus back to the boatyard as the rain came down once again. It was a new experience for Ben and he was so pleased to see everyone on the bus! After a quite night above Sandbach we headed back to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal while the sun was shining. Later the rain came down again.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Meandering Along The Middlewich Branch

We have been travelling along the Middlewich Branch with a diversion up to Calveley to use the services there. For some reason or other there was no Vodafone service at Calveley, so I missed out on using the computer and getting any phone calls. Originally we planned to spend some time in Nantwich, but discovered there was a festival there this weekend so we decided to give it a miss. We were concerned over a lack of mooring space with the festival taking over the moorings. So here we are again, out in the countryside but nevertheless we have good internet access and satellite reception. It maybe Sunday but there are no papershops or any shops for that matter so I'll have to get the latest news on the computer! The rain is pouring down but being aboard a boat who cares, we just stay put until it stops!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Visiting Anderton Boat Lift

We left Middlewich travelling quickly through the locks- no queues today! We stopped and filled up with water and did the loos. It was great to be on a part of the Trent and Mersey canal we had never travelled on before. Quite a pleasant canal too with lots of wide areas called flashes due to subsidence. Lots of birds to see here too. There were pairs of swans with seven cygnets each which seemed amazing that they managed to rear that many. They already come to the boat as soon as the side hatch opens for thir breakfast. We moored near Croxton Aqueduct - it was rather noisy as we bumped the concrete banks when inconsiderate boaters went past at the speed of light! They woke us early(6pm) so we got up earlier than usual and went on our way past the Robert's Bakery with lovely sweet smells in the air.
We travelled past Wincham Wharf and saw the huge mobile lifting gear which had lifted Bendigedig into the canal for the first time. We moored near Marston for the night but once again the boat was banging everytime boats went past too quickly. We decided to move on in the morning as we couldn't face a day of cringing everytime a boat went past. Near Marston was Marston Country Park and Anderton Nature Park, the latter on land reclaimed from industrial use, which provide lots of lovely walks which Ben really enjoyed. At Anderton Lift there were visiting moorings with 24 or 48 hour limits and atleast the concrete sides were straight down in the water so we didn't have the banging problem . We left Ben to look after the boat while we visited the exhibition and had a closer look at the boat lift. We didn't want to take the boat down as we didn't want to go on the River Weaver as there was plenty of water in it.
At Anderton we turned round and headed back to Middlewich staying again near the aqueduct until we thought the Middlewich Festival would be over. But unfortunately a lot of boats hadn't gone and all decided to go up the locks Monday morning. It took seven hours to go through five locks and we didn't moor at the visitor moorings until 6pm and there were more than twelve boats behind us in the queue for the locks. Lots of people helped each other at the locks but there are always a few who waited until all the work was done and just used the open lock! In one case six adults stayed on their boat and watched as I worked our boat up the lock and then just used it with not so much as a thank you! That's my moan for today. We did also meet some very nice people. What a fun day!! A quiet night there and we picked up some shopping at Somerfield before we headed off again towards Barbridge Junction.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Along The Middlewich Branch

Now we are travelling back along the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal intending to visit our boat builder to sort out a few things on the boat and get a 750 hour service. As they can't fit us in for over a fortnight we're hanging around again! Middlewich itself was busy as next weekend there is a boat and folk festival and lots of boats had moored up already. We bought a fan- no doubt the weather will change now. We had been told by another boater that Somerfield in Middlewich provides a free delivery service and they will deliver to boats- fantastic! We filled the trolley and it was delivered an hour later, we just had to put it all away. We stayed overnight in Middlewich on the visitor moorings, but it wasn't a quiet night as the holiday boat next to us was partying! We were up early and off down the locks towards Preston Brook as we thought we'd go have a look at the Anderton Boat Lift rather than wait around in Middlewich.
I enjoy hearing from friends via email and it was nice to hear from Milton Infants School. Caroline in Spain also keeps in touch and Wendy has mastered the art of emailing- well done! Paula (Eric's sister) also keeps in touch and always lets us know if we have any important mail. I set up my web cam and chat to my daughters with Windows Live Messenger and Clare enjoyed looking to see how big Ben the dog has got. He thoroughly enjoys life on the boat and gets lots of walks regardless of the weather. Sometimes he jumps off and takes himself for a wee when we get close to the bank and runs along next to the boat waiting for us to stop and pick him up. Ben discovered he could jump out of his puppy pen when we left him to go shopping, so we don't bother to use it now and will return it to Alison (Paula's friend) as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

From Ellesmere to Hurleston Junction

We finally left Ellesmere beyond and headed back along the Llangollen Canal- it's funny the canal looked different on the way back. We've been on this canal a month and the number of boats moving has increased dramatically. We stocked up at Tesco's in Whitchurch and then headed off again down the locks at Grindley Brook, luckily we didn't have to wait as it wasn't busy. We moored out in the countryside on our own and Ben enjoyed lazing in the long grass, watching the wild life swim by. We travelled all day and went through nine locks in very hot weather as we wanted to get back on the Shropshire Union Canal. Ben helped me with the locks and we walked for miles, so now he's fast asleep at my feet.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who Can They Be ?

As we travelled along the Llangollen Canal we saw an amazing sight on the towpath. Two little people were sat on a bench all on their own, waiting for some kind people to stop and give them a ride back to their narrowboat. We stopped straight away and offered them a ride and they enjoyed looking out of the porthole watching the world go by. We saw squirrels playing on the towpath and lots of ducks with their babies. If you look at the photographs you'll see who came for a ride on Bendigedig.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

We Leave The Montgomery Canal

Down the Monty we met narrowboat 'Pal' again and two collie playmates for Ben. He thoroughly enjoyed chasing up and down the towpath. After several days of peace and quiet we decided to head back up the Montgomery Canal and spent the night on the Weston Branch. This is the only place with rubbish disposal. Maesbury Marsh has all the other facilities but nowhere for rubbish. We needed to get back to Ellesmere so we could stock up with food-there is certainly a lack of shops on the Monty! After bridge 80 there is a PO/Cafe/Shop but supplies were limited. We booked our passage and arrived at the bottom lock at 11.30am to wait our turn, with three boats it front of us we didn't get to the top until 2.15pm. Lots of time to chat with others waiting to go up too! As we approached Ellesmere we had a few near misses, lots of new hireboaters unsure which side of the canal they should be on. An hour later we found a space on the Ellesmere Arm and there we stayed (72 hours mooring). The weather was glorious and Ben had lots of walks in the surrounding area. He also had his first soaking in a stream when he was having a drink, but he managed to get out himself and just shook himself. He is certainly growing bigger and everyone says he'll be a big dog as he's got big feet. We'll just have to wait and see!