Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunny Days At Whitchurch

Whitchurch Lift Bridge

Moored At The Whitchurch Arm

We only travelled short distance as we wanted to moor on the Whitchurch Arm. We are going slowly onwards towards Llangollen Wharf where we have a winter mooring booked. The nights are starting to get darker earlier and much colder and the fire's been lit most evenings as it keeps the boat lovely and cosy all night without the noise of central heating. It also helps keep the level of condensation down.

The days have been lovely and sunny and Ben and I have had some pleasant walks and discovered where some of the footpaths end up. Lots of boats on the move this weekend and we've seen loads of dogs with their owners. It must be the place to walk the dog on Sunday afternoon! The Whitchurch Waterway Trust has great plans to restore the Arm further into the town - let's hope it happens in the not too distant future.
Yesterday we left Ben the dog looking after the boat and walked into Whitchurch for a look around. Quite a pretty little town with lots of interesting old buildings. We even found a pet shop as we needed to take Ben back a big hide bone as he'd eaten every crap of the one he had. We also did a Tesco shop and got a taxi back as we didn't fancy a twenty minute walk with heavy bags.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Towards Grindley Brook

We left Wrenbury through the electric key operated lift bridge. Following us were two holiday hire boats so we let them pass as we were not in any hurry and we didn't want to hold them up. We had a chat to them at Marbury Lock and then followed them through. I walked for a bit with Ben the dog and by the time we reached Quoisley Lock there was no sign of the holiday boats.
As we approached Willey Moor Lock I said 'If the pub's actually open I want a pint', and surprise, surprise it was. Everytime we've passed here before it's been closed! We moored up the two boats and I had that pint- actually two halves. We moved on a bit later to moor below Grindley Brook as we wanted to get these five locks done in the morning. Lots of boats came down early evening - held up by a hireboat which got stuck in the middle lock going down the staircase which took several hours to clear as it got caught on the top of the gate.
Morning came and Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush went first and we followed through the three single locks- other boats were coming down which made it so much easier. By the time we reached the staircase the lock keeper told me to empty the bottom lock and come up following NB Shush. The lock keeper helped us work through the lock rather than just watch as the man at Hurleston had done. At the top of the staircase there was queue of boats waiting to go down, we'd been very lucky as we didn't have to wait at all.
We moved onto the water points to fill up with water. We also needed to use the sanitary station and get rid of the rubbish we'd accumulated since the last rubbish skip at Hurleston Junction. I went off in search of milk and bread and ended up at the Shell Garage. I was so long Ben and Eric formed a search party to come and look for me. I did ring him on his mobile but it was on the boat not in his pocket.

Monday, September 22, 2008

At The Beginning Of The Llangollen-Hurleston Locks

In the morning it was time for Ben's walk while the boats cruised quietly along. After Bunbury Staircase it was time for Ben to go aboard as we wanted to get through Hurleston Locks before we stopped for the night. There were four boats queueing to go up so we waited as we were number two. First we had to lift all the fenders we didn't want to get stuck in the bottom lock. The lockie had to let some water down as the pounds were getting low. Only one boat was going down. Apparently a boat went down late Monday evening and damaged the bottom lock when they got stuck. BW had it repaired very quickly though. We moored up at a very quiet spot (usually) but five boats had thought the same. We've never seen so many boats on this canal but we are a week or so earlier than usual.
We moved on the next day working through Swanley and Baddiley locks and the first lift bridge at Wrenbury to stay for a few days. Ben and I enjoyed a pleasant walk along the towpath. This canal always feels like home. We walked across the field (lots of cow dung but no cows) and through the church yard to the shop/post office at Wrenbury to get some fruit. I also bought a card to send to my dad for his collection. We were last here at Wrenbury about 5 months ago when my daughter Lisa had her baby and made me a grandma!

Christleton And Beyond

Morning came and we decided to continue our travels. We worked Northgate Locks, a three lock staircase with not a lock keeper in sight. We had to let more water down from the top lock to raise the level of the middle lock so that the two boats could clear the cill of the gate. I walked Ben the dog along the stretch of canal next to the old town walls and the boats went ahead to moor up to do some shopping. We needed to get food shopping before we moved on to stay at Christleton near 'The Cheshire Cat'.
At Christleton there was just enough room for the two boats , but it was a busy piece of towpath with runners, walkers and lots of cyclists. Ben barked when he heard the early morning runners on the towpath. The boat did a strange shudder in the night and we thought nothing of it until the morning when we noticed one of our changing colour solar lights had been taken in the night. We more annoyed by the fact that they had taken the metal bracket which holds our aerial pole in place.
Alan and Eiddwen celebrated their wedding anniversary on Thursday and we all went to 'The Cheshire Cat' where they treated us to a lovely meal. Very nice food, drink and of course the company was good too!
In the morning I walked with Ben for a mile or so and then got back on board passing slowly the long lines of moored boats. We could soon see Beeston Castle high on an outcrop of rock and we then worked through Wharton Lock and stopped at Chas Harden for fuel (85p a litre) and water( free to customers). We were glad to refill the water tanks as we planned to stay moored on the visitor moorings above Beeston Iron Lock for the weekend.
On Saturday morning the weather was lovely so I took Ben for a four mile walk along the towpath as far as Bunbury Staircase Locks and back. We bought some milk in the shop. It was very quiet and rural so Ben enjoyed running off the lead. It was a lovely evening so we had a barbecue with Alan and Eiddwen- the second of the year.
On Sunday I was walking Ben down to the lock when a couple said to me 'Your blog is overdue'. They had decided to walk this section of the canal to see if we were here. I explained that I had no signal here but would post something as soon as I could. So hello again to Laurie (short for Laurence) and Jan- thanks for name correction- I'm useless at remembering names.They are at the planning stage and will be joining us on the waterways in two years time. It's always nice to meet someone who actually reads my ramblings!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back To Chester Again

Tower Wharf Visitor Moorings

Monday morning came and we had to leave the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port as we needed a sanitary station and the nearest is Tower Wharf in Chester. Water and refuse disposal at the museum site but no elsan or pump out facilities. Along the 8 miles from Chester to Ellesmere Port there are also no boatyards and so no diesel fuel for sale either. We can see why people turn around at Chester.

We worked the two narrow locks in the museum grounds itself, filled up with water and we were on our way. As usual I walked for a mile or so with Ben and then went back on board for elevenses. Ben was still game for playing with his ball. We obviously travelled the same stretch of water but it always looks different going back the other way.

At Tower Wharf we stopped and moored for the night. Surprisingly quiet here considering a pub called 'Telford's Warehouse' is opposite the visitor moorings. We walked into Chester and had a look around and did a bit of shopping. We also sampled the Cornish pasties from a different bakery- very nice too!

In the morning we intended to move on but seeing rain and grey skies we decided to stay put until tomorrow when better weather is forecast. Hopefully the rain will stop later as we need to take Ben out for a walk and it would be much nicer if he didn't get soaking wet.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Few Laughs At Porters Row

Dummy in the loo!

1950's decor

In the museum at Ellesmere Port there are four terraced houses part of Porter's Row recreating different eras in their life. We looked in to the 1950's room and it was like going back in time. So many things were familiar. At the back of the terraced houses I opened a door to find somebody sitting on the loo. I was so surprised I said ' I'm sorry ' and shut the door quickly! Eric and I were in fits of laughter.

We also thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the old boats moored outside- most in need of tender loving care. The inside exhibits were excellent with lots of interactive information points. All I can say is it's well worth a visit and we've still not seen everything yet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

NB Shush was leading the way with NB Bendigedig close behind. The canal itself was nice and deep so we could travel a little faster without causing a wave. We didn't see any other moving boats once we left the basin at Chester.

We arrived at the museum and went in to ask about mooring in the lower basin. They gave us a permit for our stay and all it cost us was the entry cost for two ( one OAP, one adult) which was £10. We are now moored in the museum and don't have to pay again to look at all the museum exhibits. In fact we became an exhibit ourselves as we worked the boats through the two locks down to the basin. We moored up two abreast on the quay side within the museum compound.

Ben and I walked around the outdoor exhibits and there are lots of old boats to see. We also visited all the places dogs are allowed including the engine room, the blacksmith's, and the stables. He'll have to stay on the boat when we look at the rest of the museum tomorrow.

In the evening we went for a walk with Ben the dog. As the museum is next to the Manchester Ship Canal we let ourselves out of the museum compound with our BW key and went to have a look. A huge ship was being pulled down the canal by two tugs- what a sight! Ben had never seen anything like it but he wasn't distracted for long and was soon pulling us along sniffing at all the interesting smells on his walk.

Christleton And Chester

We finally arrived at Christleton near 'The Cheshire Cat', we couldn't get on the rings so ended up using pins in very soft ground. Eric had to hammer them back in several times with passing boats pulling them out. Alan and Eiddwen sampled the food at the pub and we caught up with them later for a few drinks. In the morning two of our stakes were just in and one had come out, so we were lucky not to end up across the canal. A few boats did and had to rescued with the help of a boat hook. Eric and I walked Ben the dog along the towpath towards Chester in the morning for a couple of hours- actually we were pulled along for some of the way. We returned via the village as we stopped off to get some newspapers. We stayed two nights due to the bad weather and then decided to move on through the double locks to Chester.
Despite having heard various tales of woe from other boaters about actually travelling into Chester we moored up next to the town centre to have a look around Chester. We found the pasty bakery and I sampled their spicy chicken one and Eric had a traditional pasty. Both were delicious! We enjoyed looking around this lovely old city and we posted a card off to my dad. Before we left we went to Tesco nearby to get some food before we moved down through the staircase locks to stay in the basin. Ben was delighted with the green grass and park benches there but he barked in the night on hearing some locals having a sit down and a chat in the middle of the night. They left all the boats alone so we were fine.
In the morning the sun was shining so it's Ellesmere Port- here we come!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A View Of Beeston Castle

In the morning we worked singly through Beeston Iron Lock as suggested by BW. Apparently although it looks a wide lock its not wide enough due to the warped iron plates and the danger of snagging on the sides of the lock. Ben's walk was delayed til later as the towpath had been invaded by a motorised grass mower! Ben could get away fast enough- he wanted to get back on the boat.
There was an excellent view of Beeston Castle from Wharton's Lock although the photograph doesn't really show the height of the outcrop compared to the lower level of the ground around. Ben and I walked for a while in the pleasant countryside with the boat travelling slowly alongside. Ben loves running free along the towpath and when nobody else is about it's even better.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A View From My Window

The weather men said Sunday would be dry but they got it wrong again. We decided to move anyway as we needed a change of view from the window. Ben and I walked for a bit until the rain started again. We passed Hurleston and Barbridge Junctions and then used the services at Calverley before moving on through Bunbury Staircase Locks. These were double locks so the two narrow boats could go in side by side. We are now going downhill towards Chester and travelling in a north westerly direction. I know my sense of direction leaves a lot to be desired so I have a look at the map. We travelled down through two more double locks and then moored up between Beeston Stone Lock and Beeston Iron Lock on the visitor moorings where we had a good view of the dot in the sky. The photograph shows the view from the boat window- sheep and hills again - it makes it feel like home.

Lazy Days At Hurleston

With torrential rail forecast we moved on from Nantwich as our 48 hours was up. We didn't move far, we stopped just below Hurleston Junction on the Shroppie. Of course we had the shelf causing us problems until we managed to get some hard heavy rubber fenders between us and the ledge. We then walked Ben for a few hours with intermittent showers but the heavens opened as we returned to the boat. The weather didn't help satellite reception it tends to freeze when the rain really lashes down. We lit the fire as we felt damp and cold and soon we were warm and cosy again.

When Saturday came and it had stopped raining we decided to do some boaty jobs. First job of all was chimney sweeping as we'd put on some special powder to help loosen the soot. The brush is not quite long enough so Eric ended up with his arm down the chimney and my arm was up the chimney pulling it down to clean the lower part. Needless to say we were rather dirty but the job was soon done.

The next job involved replacing gaskets on the Mikuni heater as we couldn't use it because of a water leak. Eric took it apart while I walked Ben the dog towards Barbridge Junction. When I returned it was in bits and Eric was cleaning up the combustion chamber. He then replaced some gaskets and put it back together. It works now with no leaks. Warm radiators and hot water to look forward to when we get up in the morning!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Visiting Time Again

I've just come back after a few days in Newport and I really enjoyed lots of cuddles with Gwenllian. She's five months now and a really happy baby. She certainly keeps Lisa busy. Gerwyn sent me this lovely photograph. As usual I stayed at my dad's house and it was lovely to see him again too. Clare and Sally came to see me at my dad's house and we had a lovely catch up chat. Paula brought down the post too. Thanks Paula!
On Wednesday Wendy and I did lunch and enjoyed steak and chips which went down well after fasting since the previous night for my blood tests at the doctor's! My results showed 5.2 on the cholesterol test so it's slightly over the recommended 5.0 and apparently I should follow a low fat diet and have plenty of exercise! I already do the exercise bit but I do like chocolate, biscuits and the occasional portion of chips!
It was a hectic few days with 3 hour train journeys there and back and now I am happily back on the boat.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lots of Locks- Tyrley,Addersley and Audlem

The Shroppie Fly

NB Bendigedig and NB Shush at Coole Pilate Leisure Area

After 48 hours at Norbury we stopped to fill up with water and use the sanitary station. Ben and I couldn't walk for a bit as Grub Street cutting was ahead and the guide warned of wet, wet, wet but actually it was a good path and quite dry! At the end of the cutting we jumped off and walked for a few miles and then we decided to stop at Goldstone Wharf for the night. Opposite us was the Wharf Tavern and a caravan site!
In the morning Woodseaves Cutting was ahead and we remembered the duckweed on the towpath so Ben and I stayed on board until the end of the cutting. We walked onto Tyrley Locks where the waterpoint is still out of action. It was pleasant working through the five locks with some boats coming up towards us. I helped a single handed boater through the last lock while Eric hovered waiting to go down. You couldn't moor up as there was a rocky shelf. Next stop was Market Drayton and Ben and I walked all the way there.

We were lucky at Market Drayton there was room for two boats at the end against the hard bank, which is ideal for a few days bottle locker lid is now has a very bright red lid. Sunglasses needed! We walked into the town to do an Iceland Shop as the freezer was almost empty and they have some good deals on groceries too. After 48 hours we filled up with water and used the sanitary station and left Market Drayton. A stop at Victoria Wharf filled the diesel tank at 69.9p a litre-too good to pass by.

Ben and I walked up towards Betton Wood where Ben tried to carry off a branch of a tree a couple were collecting for firewood. Luckily it was a bit too big so he left it behind. Addersley Locks were ahead and we soon worked through them and the first two of the Audlem flight to stop at Coxbank.
We had a comparatively lazy day on Sunday, although we did walk down to Audlem to get a Sunday paper and didn't move on down the Audlem Flight until Monday morning. Outside 'The Shoppie Fly' Eric filled up with water and I popped into the Co-op to get bread, milk and some hot sausage baps for lunch. Then it was three more locks and a few bridges before Coole Pilate Leisure Area where we stopped for the night.
On arrival Ben ran to greet the doggy crew members on the two nearby boats- and they played together in the usual rough and tumble fashion. He was delighted to meet an eighteen month old short haired collie just like him called Jake and they played until Ben decided he needed a rest and came back on the boat to go to sleep.