Friday, July 31, 2009

Beeston Lock To Christleton And Back Again!

Beeston Castle

On Wednesday we left this view behind and headed off for a four hour cruise to Christleton. We had to queue at the Beeston Iron Lock as it's one boat at a time, not that some boaters take any notice of the red warning signs. One pair went through after us saying they'd gone through together before- AND they didn't have a problem but the signs are there for a reason.
Ben and I had a good walk and it did stay dry while we walked. After an hour or so we got back aboard and enjoyed the cruise as far as Christleton. At Christleton we moored up and hammered in three stakes as the ground is very soft and boats were whizzing past. We had stopped on the way at Egg Bridge to get some basics at the 'One Stop' shop. From Christleton it's a bus ride to Chester and Alan and Eiddwen went shopping on Thursday. Eric and I took Ben for a long walk as there was nothing we needed. When we got back to the boat we had thunder and lightening followed by torrential rain and hailstones.
On Friday we're turning around and retracing our steps as I need to be near a train station for a visit to south Wales. Eiddwen is going visiting too, so the lads will be all alone for a few days. I am sure Ben will look after Eric.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Church Minshull to Beeston Stone Lock (SUC)

Ben and I walked on Monday morning for about an hour before we got back aboard. Very soon we saw a queue of boats waiting at Church Minsull and we were seventh in the queue. We moved slowly forward as the majority of the traffic was going towards Barbridge Junction. Ahead of us in the queue was a single handed boater who on seeing me helping at the lock didn't even move himself to get off his boat to do anything. He then had the cheek in his scouse accent to ask me if I came from another country as he couldn't understand me! When I told him I was welsh he said it is another country! Luckily I'm not violent but I did have a windlass in my hand.

We stopped at Venetian Marine to buy diesel but they wouldn't let us have water- it was for moorers only. We did use the elsan facility and nobody asked us if we were moorers- after all we were moored up filling the diesel tank. They did let us self declare 30/70 but he filled in a form for me to sign. We were ready to moor up below the lock and luckily there was no queue although a boat came as we were preparing the lock and thought they could just use the lock we'd prepared- what a cheek! He said there was nobody on the boat- I said we were getting the lock ready- needless to say he had to wait his turn.

We stopped for the night at a pleasant spot above the lock- its quiet with no nearby roads. In the morning it was walk time again and Ben and I walked to Barbridge Junction. At the junction we waited to be picked up keeping a lookout for boats coming as we'd decided to turn right and head up towards Chester. It seems to be quieter this way as most of the boats head down the Shroppie. At the moment there's a stoppage at Grindley Brook due to a breach so I doubt if many boats will be going that way. Update- BW has closed Hurleston Locks as there's not enough water to move boats through. We've heard it's chaos with boats moored everywhere at Hurleston Junction.

We stopped at Calverley to fill up the water tank as I'd done the washing. A dayboat from Nantwich was in trouble as they had no water, no hosepipe and no key to open the filler cap. Perhaps someone at Nantwich had forgot to fill it up but at £100 a day you'd expect to be done or have the equipment to fill it up yourself. Eric came to the rescue and filled it up for them and it only took ten minutes and it's a very slow water tap.

We're back in the land of wide double locks so NB Shush and NB Bendigedig shared the locks. Bunbury Staircase was the first locks we came too- remembering top lock should be full and bottom one empty we opened the gates and moved the boats. Luckily I spotted someone had left all the paddles up on the lower lock otherwise we would have just wasted a lock full of water. Two locks more and we moored up below Beeston Lock - we've stayed here before so knew we'd have a good satellite signal . Another lovely spot in the country.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Slowly Moving On - Wheelock To Middlewich

We've moved from Wheelock after using the services and moored out in the country away from any roads for a quiet nights sleep. The A road is high above the canal at Wheelock and there seems to be a constant rumble as it's such a busy road. As we travelled we escaped the heavy rain which came after we moored up for the day.
We moved on to Middlewich to get some fish and chips at Kings Lock. I've been fancying curry sauce so that's what I had on my chips.Unfortunately it's another noisy place to moor! We also did a Tesco shop before leaving Middlewich behind on Friday. It was chaotic with lots of hireboats about- queues ahead up to Anderton but we were turning right and going on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal after we'd topped up the water tank at the junction.
Maureen came out of Whardle Lock Cottage for a chat and helped close the locks bottom gates. Three boats were waiting to come down watching me do all the paddles. The lady on the first boat appeared as we left the lock. We'd helped the boats ahead of us through but it seemed nobody wanted to return ther favour. Locking is often a good time for a chat with other boaters but lately you're more likely to meet a boater who fails to look to see if anyones coming and then turns the lock against you as you appear at the lock. Time seems to be their problem- they're in a rush- whatever hapened to 'Narrowboaters do it slowly'. I feel sorry for them all as it's so much more fun when you are not clock watching.
One more lock and we're far enough away from Middlewich to have a quiet country mooring. We'd planned to go as far as Church Munshall but it poured with rain so Eric decided to stop and NB Shush pulled in behind us. The view from the boat is a field of cows and a few calves and the satellite TV works great so we'll stay a few days- it's the Grand Prix on Sunday.
The weather on Saturday was beautiful and Eric and I took Ben for a walk back to Middlewich to the chemist's as my cough was getting annoying. It was eighty degrees inside the boat with all the windows and doors open on Saturday but on Sunday it had cooled down ten degrees and of course the rain had returned. Ben and I walked back into Middlewich to get some Sunday papers in the rain. I had my wet gear on so I stayed nice and dry. He needed a rub down with a towel when we got back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On The Trent And Mersey-'Heartbreak Hill'

Travelling down from our mooring above Church Locks to our next mooring at Hassall Green took about three hours. Ben and I walked most of the way and the weather managed to stay dry as we worked through ten locks. Lots of boats in both directions and paired locks meant the locks were mostly set for us with a boat leaving a lock and gates open for us. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush followed us down and we were moored up by 1.30pm.
I suggested lunch at 'The Romping Donkey' if the kitchen was open this time. Since our last meal there it had changed hands and a sign said 'Cash Only- Sorry'. The menu was limited- the specials were Off. I did enjoy my rump steak which was cooked just how I like it and at £8.95 it was OK but at £7.95 for a burger with very few chips was a bit pricey. As for real ales- they'd run out leaving a choice of Guinness, Tetley's or lager. Is it a Monday thing- the last pub we visited had very little choice.
We stayed the night planning to work the next ten locks down to Wheelock in the morning. These twenty locks were called Heartbreak Hill by the old boaters and we've seen some unhappy women working the locks on hire boats. It's not an easy option doing the Four Counties Ring in a week, especially if it's the first time you've had a narrow boat holiday.
The weather forecast was grim but we decided to move on in drizzly rain. We did the locks in record time of just over two hours because there was plenty of boat traffic in both directions. Ben and I enjoyed our walk to Wheelock working the boat through the locks as we came to them. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush were following close behind and the two boats were soon safely moored up at Wheelock just after midday. We were lucky the very heavy rain came after we'd moored up but there are lots of hire boats still moving on with a tight schedule to get around the ring.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back On The Trent And Mersey Canal - Going North

We left the Macclesfield Canal following NB Shush and came down the lock to moor near The Canal Tavern as we needed some shopping from Tesco before we moved. We didn't sample the beer in this pub as we'd not found them very friendly on our last visit there with Alan & Eiddwen. Basically they'd run out of anything we asked for, so it more a case of what have you got left? It was almost too much trouble to serve us and then the loud jukebox started from the bar- we drank our drinks and left.

Tesco's was heaving being a Friday but we'd run out of everything. What do you pick at if you've no bread, crisps, biscuits and chocolate? We ended up having a dish of porridge! We returned to the boat with a reduced bank balance but at least we had FOOD! We moved around the corner away from the factories we'd moored near to and stayed put next to a grassy area with trees- a small copse. Ben enjoyed sniffing and watering the greenery before the rain came down. At least the heavy rain would keep the local wildlife away from the boats.

We decided to move down through the next five locks and moor up on the rings at a lovely mooring near Church Locks. Lots of boats on the move on Saturday using the locks and most of them helped each other through. The paired locks speeded up the passage through but we ended up queueing when only one lock was usable. BW are currently working to reinstate the derelict locks. We moored up just as the rain came down again- where's our summer gone?

We had a lie in on Sunday not waking til after ten and Ben was still asleep too. I wish I could say I slept all night but as usual I was drinking tea and reading my book in the early hours of the morning. We got up, had breakfast and then went for a three mile walk to get a paper. We donned the wet weather gear but we were lucky as the thunder storm came after we'd got back. Ben is now asleep under the bed- storms always spook him so he goes to sleep.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ben Takes A Dip!

We're enjoying this canal with it's lovely scenery and well maintained locks. We arrived at the Bosworth Flight of twelve locks and decided to work through the first one after we'd used the services above the top lock. The waterpoint is actually the lock mooring which doesn't make it easy to get water when there's quite a few boats about all with the same idea. There was also a boat left by it's owner next to the waterpoint as she'd broken her hip and had to be air lifted to hospital so the story goes- I hope she's OK.
In the pound below the lock we felt the water level changes but all was quiet once the traffic stopped. In the morning we looked out of the window- the weather didn't look very promising but down the locks we were going. It stayed dry and we did them in record time of two hours and moored at Gurnett Aqueduct at 12 noon, plenty of room at this time. Ben enjoyed himself off the boat but he did have a surprise when he ran across the little bridge at the mouth of one lock and a loud splash was heard- he'd fallen in! I knew he could swim and I could see him doggy paddling so I kept calling him to me until he swam in the right direction, climbed out and shook himself none the worse for the experience.
Eric and I decided to go for a walk to see the aqueduct from the valley below. After we'd seen the aqueduct we followed a footpath across a field of barley to a bridge over the River Dane. We then followed the road uphill towards the Bosley Cloud ( a hill with a ruin on it) thinking we'd soon come to a road turning right which would take us back to the canal. We came to Peaover Lane and followed it downhill (it seemed like forever) until we came to Canal Bridge 61 and walked back to the boat above Bridge 57. We'd walked about four and a half miles and we were gasping for a cool drink- Ben had a drink of his favourite on the way back to the boat -canal water.
We had a quiet night at Gurnett Aqueduct- a lovely place to moor. In the morning we continued on our journey down the Macclesfield Canal stopping for a cuppa and a chat with Marion and Richard on NB Cartref as we were passing their mooring. We hadn't them since March. We're only just on the Macclesfield Canal now, we've gone through the Stop Lock at Hall Green and moored up just before the rain came down in torrents.
Note for Liz and Nick- I can't find your blog on Google. Email me with the blog address.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Going South-Down The Macclesfield Canal

We retraced our steps and moored up at High Lane for the weekend as we knew we could get satellite TV and we just had to watch the last one of Torchwood- we couldn't miss the end. Also High Lane has shops including several takeaways and there are several pubs. Eiddwen and I caught the bus into Stockport for some retail therapy. I needed some Blank CD's to put some photos on and to make a back up copy of 'My Documents' on my laptop. My laptop is working fine although the battery doesn't last that long compared to when it was new. We caught the bus back to High Lane and we had a free trip as it was a replacement bus for one which had broken down- we thought the driver was joking when he said nobody had to pay.

Ben the dog likes it at High Lane too as there's a playing field next to the canal where we can play ball and there's a stream alongside the one side which provides him with drinks and a wash as well. We met lots of dogs there stretching their legs. We moved on and stopped at Higher Poynton to refill the water tank as the washer drier did the washing while we cruised. Ben and I played ball in the playing field by the water point while the tanks slowly filled.

Moving on again slowly as the water's shallow and the bank eroded in places. Lots of boats on the move today and they all got up much earlier than us and now there's no room on the visitor moorings. Well there were half a boat spaces between boats at Gurnett Aqueduct Visitor Moorings and if they moved closer we could have got in but it wasn't worth the hassle. One tug style boat sat in the middle of a two boat space - the same couple we met at a water point worried we might get close and scratch their boat. Not a very friendly lot of boaters up here today!

We finally found a spot where we could get in the side of the canal and moored up on the 'armco' behind a couple of other boats. We timed it well as the rain came down when we were safely inside.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bugsworth Basin

NB Bendigedig In Bugsworth Basin

NB Shush Reversing

Another Part Of The Basin

We left Higher Poynton and moved on slowly, this canal is quite shallow and it's impossible to move quickly. I walked alongside the boat with Ben the dog for an hour before getting back aboard. NB Shush went ahead and turned onto the Peak Forest Canal and headed for Whaley Bridge. We watered up, did the cassettes, got rid of the rubbish and turned around with a lady waiting to fend us off her very shiny boat if we came too close- we didn't. We decided against staying on the visitor moorings although there was room. it was next to a very busy road.

We stopped at Tesco's to get some shopping before heading off to Bugsworth Basin which turned out to be a much better place to moor up for 48 hours. It was really quiet although there were quite a few boats moored up. I explored the Tramway Walk with Ben the dog and came back along the road to Buxworth Village. I don't know why the name has a different spelling in the village. It's a pleasant place to stay and quite interesting reading all the blurb in the leaflet from BW and going to have a look at this historical industrial site.

We had to leave as our time was up and Alan reversed out first to get some water and turn around in 'The Wide' as it's called. We followed a little later and heads popped up watching that we didn't touch their boats as we slowly reversed back. We turned around ready to leave and moored up to use the services. Once the water tank was full again we headed off with NB Shush leading the way- no locks today , just swing and lift bridges as we retraced our steps back along the Peak Forest Canal onto the Macclesfield to find a nice spot for the weekend.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sally And Bob's Wedding

Happy Faces

Enjoying the disco 'Sit down next to me!'

We've just returned from south Wales - we left Ben the dog in the capable hands of Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush and they said he was very good boy. They also looked after our boat and kept the batteries charged so the food was OK in the fridge and freezer. Many thanks to you both once again. If you read NB Shush's blog you'll know where we've been- to our daughter Sally's wedding to Bob at Maes Manor in Blackwood.

We left Higher Poynton in Cheshire at 11.00am and were in Newport, south wales by 15.30 pm which involved a bus to Stockport and train via Bristol Parkway. It was all planned with an excellent site called Traveline which has information on travel in the British Isles. The return journey went without a hitch too.

We arrived in Newport where Sally met us and took us to her house with a quick detour to see Eric's sister Paula and her daughter Dannielle. Paula's dogs greeted us enthusiastically as usual as did Sally's and Bob's dog Sam when we arrived. We always feel as though we need oxygen at the top of the steep steps leading to the house- we're not used to stairs or steps anymore and it also took Sally and Bob a while to get used of this ascent. Sally and Bob took us out for a meal and we had a few drinks before it was time to head home- the bride to be needed her beauty sleep.

The morning quickly came and Sally left for the hairdresser's leaving us to walk the dog. We didn't know where we were going but Sam showed us the way he usually goes with Sally leading us back home after three quarters of an hour. Now it was our turn to get ready for the wedding as the taxi was coming at just after two pm. Clare came to get out of her motorbike gear and become a lady and travel to the hotel with us. Needless to say the rain came down just as we were leaving the house.

The journey was speedy and we were soon dropped of at the door of the hotel where it was all happening. I went up to see Sally in their room at the hotel and she looked stunning in her lovely dress. Downstairs the guests were congregating and soon it was time for us to go into the room prepared for the ceremony. The bridesmaid's came down the aisle , Lisa carried Gwen she didn't want to walk the way she needed to go. Eric proudly walked his daughter down the aisle. It was a lovely service with lots of smiles as the service progressed and finally they were man and wife.

Photographs followed inside due to torrential rain but it didn't spoil their day. The reception followed with lovely food and wine and we had a really good time with Eric glad that his speech was over. A disco followed and although it was rather loud (a sign of age!), we thoroughly enjoyed the music and even got up and danced until the old knees and feet rebelled. Someone commented on Eric doing the twist- I think these youngsters forget we were young once!

Friday, July 03, 2009

On The Macclesfield Canal

NB Bendigedig

Passing In Bosley Pound

First of all we did a food shop then it was one more lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal before a sharp turn right onto the Macclesfield Canal. This runs parallel to the T &M for a short distance before a sharp left turn takes you on an aqueduct over the T & M. The first thing you notice is the water's not stained orange anymore and we had just a stop lock to do a bit further on. The progress is also much slower as the canal is shallow. Ben and I had a short walk just ahead of the boats and then we got on - it was just far too hot. Moored up At Congleton Wharf in the afternoon and followed a footpath sign in the evening to take Ben for a walk when it got a bit cooler. We had the last space so NB Shush breasted up next to us.

After a quiet night we left Congleton Wharf after I'd taken Ben for a short walk down a nice shady lane I found. It was next to a golf course and Ben would have loved to run on the greens! Now we're seeing hills again and lots of greenery and there's ten locks to negotiate- Bosley Locks. At first we were in luck as there was a couple of boats coming down but after four locks we had to empty each lock before we could use it as they were against us. The scenery was lovely but in this heat locks are hard going. We met some Americans from Arizona and they said they'd seen more greenery in four days on the canals than the last six years in Arizona. Ben had an unexpected dip in the canal when he leaned in to get a drink and all of him went in. He got himself out before I got to him and promptly shook all over me. One way to get cool I suppose.
We had a lunch stop just before the Top Lock and then we worked through it. A boat was coming down, they moored up on the bollards and the four adults stayed on board until we were leaving the lock- obviously afraid they might be asked to help. We used the services and then we were on our way again looking for a nice place to stop. We came across floating clumps of weeds and canal banks damaged by someone travelling too fast. Finally we stopped at Lyme Green overnight and we'll be looking for a nice place to moor for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I'm Now A Proper Boater- I Fell In!

Another busy day with sixteen locks worked through. Ben and I walked between the locks which were closer together and rode on the boat if they were a good distance apart. We had a lunch stop at Church Lawton before continuing through the last six locks and stopping just after 'The Red Bull' pub. The locals were drinking pints outside next to the lock- oh I really wanted a nice cool drink and then it poured with rain and they all rushed inside.

Little did I know at the time but ten minutes later I was really cool. We were mooring up to go food shopping and I went to step on the boat to get the Pearson's guide and I missed. YES I FELL IN! Up to my neck in dirty, orange and rather smelly canal water- it actually felt cold! Eric and Alan reacted quickly and grabbed my hands and hauled me out. I quickly dripped into the shower and got my wet stuff off and had a nice hot shower. Two showers in one day- good job we filled up with water at Red Bull Services. Dirty clothes are now in the washing machine too.

Tonight I need a medicinal drink to calm my nerves (an excuse if one was needed), so we're off to the pub with Alan & Eiddwen. I scraped my back and collected a few bruises but I'm fine- I'll live to fight another day!