Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leaving Cheshire Into Greater Manchester!

We woke this morning to a mist which was soon gone and the sun was shining. We had a chat and decided to go nearly as far as Oldfield Brow so we could still moor out in the countryside before we reached Manchester.We enjoyed the wide canal with very few boats about going either way. I walked Ben the dog for an hour before getting back on the boat to have a cuppa. At Moore the shop and post office is next to the canal so we moored up and picked up some bread, milk and a newspaper. The weather made it a joy to be boating and I love steering when the canal is so wide- Eric nags me to stay in the middle but where's the white line? We finally reached our planned mooring point we moored up and had the curry which had been simmering on the cooker. Today we passed from Cheshire into Greater Manchester and we're heading for Manchester - I hope we enjoy it! There's certainly lots of locks when we get on the Rochdale Canal but we're travelling with our pals Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush so we can work the double locks together.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Anderton To Preston Brook

NB Shush Leaving Saltersford Tunnel

NB Shush Turning Around

Our night at Anderton was quiet and in the morning we decided to go as far as Preston Brook. First of all we had three tunnels to go through with Barnton being the first. We followed a hireboat very slowly through. Saltersford Tunnel has a bend in the middle so you can't see through to the end and travelling north we had a twenty minute window to get through. This time we were first in the queue with Alan following behind.The final tunnel was Preston Brook and we had a ten minute window to go north I took a photo of Alan leaving the tunnel which nearly cost him his hat.
The Bridgewater Canal starts just inside the north portal so know we're on totally new territory for us. After a short trip down the Runcorn Arm to use the services we rejoined the Bridgewater Canal. Alan decided to see if he could turn around using the width of the canal and he could. We played safe by reversing back and using the entrance to Preston Brook Marina to turn around- good job nobody was looking. A mile from Preston Brook we moored up for the night with a good view of the dot in the sky, so I could watch Holby City.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Middlewich To Anderton

Monday morning came with the promised rain so we went Tesco shopping before we set off down to the locks at Middlewich to turn left to head for Anderton. Boats were going in both directions so we had lots of crew helping out. At Big Lock we shared the lock with Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush and both stopped to refill the water after doing our washing.
We had a long day but with no locks it was pleasant. We passed the flashes and smelled the bakery at Higher Shurlach which smelled just the same as when we last came this way two years ago. We went past Wincham Wharf where our boat was first craned into the cut after being built in Widnes.
On the way to Anderton we had an unscheduled stop to help a damsel in distress who had jumped in to save her puppy. They were both next to the opposite bank so Eric took the dog and then lifted her out by her arms- good job she was a light weight.
At Anderton we used the services and then moved on to find a space on the moorings. Two boats had spaced themselves out so we couldn't get in on the 48 hour moorings but found room on the 24 hour moorings. We planned to move on in the morning so it made no difference to us.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Moored At Middlewich

We left our mooring near Venetian Marine on Friday morning and joined the queue for the locks. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush went first as he was stopping to pick up an anchor at the chandlers. Eric followed on while I waited at the lock with Liz off NB Henry and the two dogs. Liz decided to walk for a bit too so we waited below the locks until the three boats were through.The dogs enjoyed their walk and Liz and I had a nice chat. NB Henry moored up near Church Munshall as they needed to stop for a service on their Whisper gen. We carried on for a while until we came to the visitor moorings overlooking the lakes and River Weaver near Bridge 21. It was an extremely windy spot but quiet other than the Virgin trains passing by- it was the Crewe to Glasgow line.
On Saturday morning we were ready to go and the rain came down- luckily we'd put on the wet gear so we stayed dry. Ben the dog got wet on his walk but he didn't mind. We walked all the way to Middlewich so he was quite happy to stay on the boat while I went shopping. We found to our dismay Somerfield had closed two weeks ago- so we couldn't get shopping delivered to the boat. A new Tesco is opening Monday but until then there was a Tesco Express. I need to get some dog food before we go north as it's all new territory for us once we're passed Anderton. Eric and Alan had gone to the chandlers as Alan wanted an anchor so we phoned them to see if they would get us fish and chips for lunch on the way back. They were in the pub so we decided to join them for a half and then get fish and chips on the way back to the boat. The fish and chips from the shop by Kings Lock are amazing- they are a must have anytime we pass through Middlewich.
We decided to stay until Monday morning so we could get the shopping and Alan was waiting on some shackles for his anchor to be delivered to Kings Lock Chandlery on Monday morning too. We didn't light the fire last night but noticed it was rather cold this morning so I flicked on the heating and stayed in bed until it warmed up. I think we'll light it tonight as the temperature really goes down at night. Most of Sunday was spent reading the paper, blog reading and my book as well as dog walking in the lovely sunshine. We had a nice easy dinner of sphagetti bolonese so there wasn't much washing up.
Eric bought some LED's that replace the bulbs in our ceiling lights- they use 2.5watts each instead of 20 watts so we thought we'd try them out. Not cheap at £10.50 each but kinder to the batteries. The jury is out on whether they provide enough light, but they certainly use less electricity.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leaving The Llangollen Canal

Leaving Hurleston Junction

Ben and I Posing!

After a quiet night at Wrenbury we headed off towards next lift bridge and the three Baddiley locks. Ben and I enjoyed the walk although there were a few hairy moments when I nearly left my boots stuck in the mud. We then got on the boat to cruise down to the locks at Swanley as we needed a tea break before we got to the locks at Hurleston. We stopped at the water points above the locks and had a quick snack while the boat filled up with water. Cassettes emptied and rubbish disposed of and we were ready to go as was NB Shush following behind. Linda the lockie had the top lock open ready and I changed my books in her book swap while waiting for our boat to get to the top lock. A short while later we were down the flight of locks after using the side pound to swap places with a boat coming up who just couldn't understand that boats could go up and down. He thought he should have the flight to himself. Eric turned left at the bottom towards Chester and moored up and went off to help Alan and Eiddwen who were still working through the flight. Before he went he took a photo of Ben and I. We left Hurleston Junction behind and headed for Barbridge Junction to turn right onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. We cruised past a long line of moored boats as far as the first visitor moorings and there to Ben's delight was Connie and her owners Liz and Nick on NB Henry. We didn't expect to see them so soon but they'd been held us with problems with their boat. We had a chat then went to get some paint at Venetian Marine and had a cuppa with Liz and Nick on the way back while the dogs played their usual rough and tumble on the towpath.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Few Days On The Prees Branch

The weather was gorgeous as we travelled towards the Prees Branch. I walked with Ben the dog for an hour or so and lifted some of the the lift bridges and Eiddwen from NB Shush did the others. Turn right and down the Prees Branch for more lift bridges- the first one is worked by pulling a chain and to say it's hard is putting it mildly. I only managed to raise it with Eric's help and as the boats left to moor up I had the job of lowering it by pulling the chain. I pulled and pulled and it lowered until it came to the point where it just balanced- neither up or down. The only way I could lower it was to walk on the deck of the bridge. Apparently because it's a listed bridge they can't put hydraulic gear on it. We spent a couple of nights enjoying the peace and quiet. I loved being able to see so many stars without lights from civilisation spoiling the view.
On Tuesday we purchased the fuel and the tank took 140 litres the most it's ever taken and now we know why the central heating wouldn't work- the fuel was too low. Eric had to suck the fuel pipe on the boiler to get fuel through and he didn't enjoy the taste of diesel but now the heating works so we can use it when we need to. Whixall Marina accepted our 30/70 split with no problem and because domestic diesel was only 50p a litre our bill was cheaper than our diesel had been before the added tax.
Next stop was Whitchurch and we walked into town from the Whitchurch Arm with Ben the dog and did some shopping at Tesco's. Eric waited with Ben the dog who still freaks out at strange noises- he didn't like the noise of bus doors closing and the bus horn hooting upset him too- he's a country dog for sure. The land is all there waiting for restoration work to take place to continue the canal into the town itself but it's a massive project with plans for an inclined plane to divert the canal from where it's previous path has been built on. No doubt funding must be a problem as nothing has been done apart from signs telling of the proposals.
Today I walked from the Whitchurch Arm to Grindley Brook with Ben the dog and Eric followed us with the boat. Ben decided to stop at a boat on the towpath owned by Les called NB Valerie. We haven't seen him for a while so he invited us for a cuppa along with Alan and Eiddwen. It was nice to have a catch up and the water tank filled up while we drank our tea. Ben enjoyed his biscuits off Les and jumped on is boat to see if there was any more!
We've worked through ten locks today including the staircase at Grindley Brook and my muscles know it, but the weather was warm if overcast. It's good practice for all the locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Ben enjoyed his walk today and now we're moored at Wrenbury after holding up the traffic to go through the Wrenbury Lift Bridge. It was great to just push a button to raise and lower the bridge!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Senior Moments

Since I came back to the boat I've had a few senior moments! On friday I decided to go by bus to Oswestry to stock up the cupboards and when I went to check the time on my phone I couldn't find it although I knew I'd brought it with me. the reason I needed to use my phone to check the time is my watch had stopped. I retraced my steps to the boat but no luck and told Eric I'd lost my phone- he said there's a bump in the hem of your coat- yes it was my phone, it had fallen through a hole in my pocket.
Today I went to the shop in Ellesmere to get milk and bread taking Ben along for a walk. I tied the dog to the bench opposite the shop and he waited while I got the shopping. I got to the till and found I'd left my purse on the boat! They kept my shopping while I walked back for my purse to pay the bill. Back at the shop the goods had to go through the till again and this time I could pay.
This morning the heating decided to go off ( we use it to heat the water for a shower)and give an error signal of quick flashing lights so now we need to check the control box as the number of flashes on that tells us the problem. We'll have a look later as today we're on the move- firstly to fill up with water, do the cassettes, and get rid of the rubbish and then we're heading towards Whixall Marina for some diesel and gas and we'll stay on the Prees Branch for a few days.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Birthdays And Visiting Newport

I planned to go to Newport on Wednesday to see my dad for his 82nd birthday but ended up going a day earlier as my granddaughter Gwenllian had a febrile convulsion on Easter Monday and was being checked out in hospital. It frightened my daughter Lisa as she'd not seen a baby have a convulsion but Clare phoned the ambulance which arrived very quickly. The person on the end of the phone told them not to take off her clothes to cool her down until she finished fitting and by then the ambulance had arrived, so they stripped her off , gave her oxygen and took her off to hospital. I had to wait til Tuesday to go to see them as no buses running from Ellesmere due to the Bank Holiday. The hospital sent them home at lunch time Tuesday with instructions to give her Calpol, keep her cool and take her temperature regularly! The following day Lisa took Gwenllian to her GP as her temperature was still high and he prescribed antibiotics and now the baby is starting to get better.
Gwenllian celebrated her first birthday this week - that year has certainly passed quickly by. She had a party on Sunday and my dad as her great grandad enjoyed the party too. On Wednesday evening my dad had his birthday do- he likes to go out for a meal and always treats us even though it's his birthday! It was nice to see my cousins Jen, Christine and Alison and my Aunty Vera who has just celebrated her 88th birthday. My three daughters were there too with their partners as well as my dad's next door neighbours Malcolm and Lorraine. My dad had lots of cards and gifts and a surprise birthday cake with candles too. I returned to Ellesmere on Thursday after a hectic few days- Ben was waiting with Eric at the bus stop and I ended up with paw prints up my front courtesy of Ben the dog.
On our way back to the boat I spotted NB Marmaduke (owned by John and Cathy) on the Ellesmere Arm but nobody was on board. Eric had met them both and had a chat and they gave us a mention on their blog. Ben and I had a lovely walk in the wood near the canal and the birds were singing with all their little hearts even when it started to pour with rain. We returned to the boat rather wet but it's always nice to be home!
PS Thanks Paula for the mail delivery!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter Everybody!

Well it's Easter Sunday and the roast is cooking in the oven and I'm just waiting for the roast potatoes to brown. The pressure cooker's beginning to hiss as it comes up to pressure to cook the vegetables. We didn't do Easter eggs but we did have a bar of Cadbury's whole nut chocolate to share this evening.

I took Ben out a bit earlier so I was back in time to put in the chicken- no automatic timers on gas ovens. It was a lovely stroll through the woods and I saw bluebells for the first time this year. At the Mere we also saw our first ducklings of the year but I didn't have the camera. The sun is shining so Eric is painting the red oxide on where we got hit on the stern the other day. Soon this will be covered with a coat of gloss.

Later on in the afternoon Ben and I went for another walk and Eiddwen came too. It was very busy alongside the Mere and there were long queues for ice cream and drinks as the weather is so good. The short sleeved top had its first outing and looks as though my arms caught the sun. This evening a hot air balloon went over Ellesmere so someone had a lovely calm day to enjoy their balloon flight.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Good Friday

Yesterday Eiddwen and I caught the bus to Oswestry to do some food shopping. We needed to get some nice fruit and vegetables and it was a chance to get some things that are hard to come by here- I wanted some risotto rice. We discovered the Number 53 bus charges £2.60 (single) and takes the scenic route lasting nearly forty minutes as we travelled to Oswestry on this bus. On the way back we caught the cheaper option with the Number 449 which charges £1.50 (single) for a twenty minute trip. I know which bus I'll be catching next time. We filled our shopping trolleys and didn't forget the hot cross buns. Ben the dog was patiently waiting for me to come back to take him for a walk, which I did after I'd had a cup of coffee and a sandwich to recharge my batteries.
First thing today it was comparatively quiet here in Ellesmere but by the afternoon all the moorings were filling up. Several 'Gift Shop Boats' are moored on the Ellesmere Arm hoping to sell their wares to passers by. Ben enjoyed meeting lots of new dogs visiting the area and behaved himself too. He loves paddling in the mere and having a drink at the same time. Today I decided to clean the interior brass with Brasso- it's always a messy job. I also rubbed down the window wood surrounds where condensation had stained them and Eric varnished them. We had the windows open with the smell of varnish but they soon dried- they'll need a second coat tomorrow. There's always jobs to do when you live on a boat but at least everthing is within easy reach, no ladders needed.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Visit To The Vet

The photo is one I took of Ben playing with Charlie From NB Compass Rose who was moored with us at Hindford.

Yesterday Ben and I had a nice walk over the hill to the Mere, where you can walk through a wooded area by the side of the lake. As it was deserted except for geese, ducks and swans ,he could run free with no worries about cyclists or joggers. It was really pleasant as all you could hear were the birds singing.
In the afternoon it was time to keep our appointment at the vet- nothing wrong just booster time again. The very nice vet checked him over and pronounced him fit and well and then gave him his booster vaccination. He now weighs in at 22.5kgs and is all set for the year with a supply of flea/tick treatments and worming tablets. We smiled as we are not registered there we were filed under 'miscellaneous holiday people'- apparently they get lots of doggy visitors here being conveniently situated not far from the canal.
We took Ben for another walk before heading back through town to get some fruit and veg. The oranges in the shop had seen better days and I wanted a stirfry mix of vegetables but no luck. It looks like a visit to Oswestry is in store with a choice of Somerfield soon to be Morrisons or Sainsburys and quite a good bus service from Ellesmere.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Visiting Ellesmere

After we left Frankton Junction we stopped for the night on visitor moorings. The canal is certainly busier with boats going past for most of the day. We've had a few early morning boats go by and my thoughts as I lay in bed were can't you sleep. I know they've got to get there and back in a week but it can't be much of a holiday- they'll need a week off afterwards to recover.
Now we're moored in Ellesmere but chose to stay away from the Ellesmere Arm as you can only stay 72 hours and there's building work going on next to it with a new Tesco's as well as residential including retirement apartments and canal side housing. Tesco's is due to be completed in August and no doubt the town shop's will suffer because of it.
Today while moored up we were hit on the stern by an Anglowelsh hire boat being steered by a child! Considering the wind it would have been a good idea for her parents to be in control of the boat. What maddened us more was the fact that they didn't care enough to even apologise as they scraped along the side of our boat- they were totally on the wrong side of the canal and did not understand keep right when passing.
Just been for a walk with Ben the dog through the Shropshire Trust Nature Reserve and it was lovely to see violets, primroses and cowslips in bloom. Ben seems to remember the walks we've been on and just waited to see which way I was going. It's a nice change to walk in a different area after five months in Llangollen.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Through Frankton Locks

Alan At Frankton Staircase

Eric At Frankton Staircase

Queueing At Frankton

We had booked our passage through Frankton Locks for today (Sunday) but as the passage through starts at 12 o'clock there was no rush to move from the Weston Arm to queue at the bottom of the locks. We had to ask the lockie to let some water down as the level in the arm was so low by the morning and Eric wanted to watch the Grand Prix before we moved. Two boats were already at the mooring below the locks so we waited until the first one moved into the bottom lock. The water level was way down in the pound coming up to the first lock and the levels were also low in the pounds between the locks. We never have this problem when Colin the lockie is on duty, but he has weekends off.

The Return Journey (Back To NB Shush)

On Saturday morning Ben and I went walking to have a look at the work of the Shropshire Union Canal Society busy restoring a section of the Montgomery Canal. Volunteers were busy but not too busy to say hello. They are slowly heading towards Crickheath Wharf where the next winding hole is waiting overgrown and silted up. Until this is done no one can travel the new section in water as there is nowhere to turn around.

When I got back we untied and began our cruise back to NB Shush on the Weston Arm. I enjoyed steering because it was so peaceful but it was colder today hence the coat in the photo. Three hours later we were back with our pals and Alan was waiting to help us moor up. Eiddwen made welsh cakes and sent some in for us - they were delicious.
On our travels we met some young girls travelling in canoes and they arrived later to spend the night in their tents on the bank of the Weston Arm. We had a quiet night but had to loosen the ropes on the boat as the water levels often go down dramatically overnight. This morning their tents were covered in white frost but they were soon up and away in their canoes- next stop was Grindley Brook.

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Cruise To Maesbury Marsh

Maesbury Marsh

Last night Eric and I were thinking about cruising down to Maesbury Marsh rather than staying put on the short Weston Arm for a few days. Just before twelve we decided to go despite the mist which we hoped would burn off to a lovely sunny day. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush stayed behind as Alan had some jobs he wanted to get on with.

Ben and I enjoyed a lovely walk with nobody else on foot and Eric cruising alongside us. Yesterday Ben had been very unhappy with the noise of the bird scarer going off near where we were moored but today we were away from the noise and he was much happier. We couldn't see the Breidden Hills but maybe we'll see them on the way back. Four locks and three hours later we turned around at the present end of navigation and moored at Maesbury Marsh visitor moorings near Canal Central which is a shop, post office, Internet cafe as well as holiday accommodation. We walked up to get some bread and milk for us and our pals. The sun was shining too!

Out of the boat window tonight we can see a field with five horses in and lots of rabbits running around with their tails bobbing. We only saw one other boat on the move and that was NB Pal heading back up towards Frankton Locks. Have a good evening Alan and Eiddwen- see you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

On The Monty (Again)

Frankton Top Lock
Eric posing!

Thursday morning came after a peaceful night moored just around the corner from the locks at Frankton. We started to go through just before twelve and the lock keeper asked me to go and fill Lock 3 and tell the boater waiting to come up to go in the bottom lock and fill it up and wait in the lock until the boat came down and swapped places with him. It took about half an hour to get through and we moored on the Weston Arm to use the services there. The sun was shining so Eric washed one side of the boat- he'd already done the other side. I took his photo as he'd decided to shave off his beard- I now have a new man!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Just A Short Cruise

NB Shush is following too!

Yes I am following that boat!

We left Hindford (Jack Myttons) and Eric cruised towards Frankton Junction where the Montgomery Canal joins the Llangollen Canal with Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush following behind. Ben and I walked for the hour it took us to get there. The photo shows Ben looking back to make sure I'm still following that boat. The towpath used to be a no go area as it was all but washed away but now it's all repaired. We are now moored at Bridge 1W on the visitor moorings and tomorrow we're going down the locks- it's all booked with BW at Northwich. The number of boat movements onto this canal is restricted but I don't actually know how many are allowed in a year. The first bridge number we meet there is number 70 as the numbers continue on from the bridges before Frankton Junction.