Monday, August 31, 2009

Bank Holiday Monday

What have I done today? We left our mooring above Barlaston and worked through eight locks to moor up at Stone. Lots of boats about and lots of chats at the locks. I met a lady on NB Penelope who saw the boat name and told Eric she reads our blog. I didn't get a chance to ask your name so hello again. I also met Brenda whose just retired from teaching at Lliswerry Primary- we didn't exchange names so it was a case of looking for her picture on the website. The conversation started with a comment on our boats name and realising we both were teachers in Newport.

It was chaotic as we approached Stone as the water point is below the lock and we came out of the lock to find boats everywhere. We did manage to pull in and fill up with water. I popped along to the chandlers as I needed a new long handled aluminium windlass to replace the one now in the cut above Sandbach. The long handled design makes the paddle gear easier to move. We moored up near the Sports Ground in a space just long enough for us. Ben is delighted as he's already had a play with the ball thrower in the big open space. We came back to the boat when the rain started.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Passing Through Stoke

A Bottle Kiln

Middleport Pottery

Middleport Pottery

This morning I had a walk around Westport Lake with Ben and then back onboard to cruise through Stoke-on- Trent hoping it would stay dry to do the locks. I took some photos of the bottle kilns you see on the way through. There's a new development where they have kept a pair of joined kilns intact on the canal side amongst new buildings but I didn't have the camera. After several locks we moored up near Barlaston on a 24 hour mooring so we'll have to move in the morning even if we don't go far. It's now raining again and I expect more of the same tomorrow- it's a Bank Holiday!

Through The Harecastle Tunnel

Going In Northern Portal

It's Drippy In Here!

White Painted Low Sections

45 Minutes Later!

I'm OK Here!

Lots of locks later and we moored up at Church Lawton- a popular spot with no road noise. The spaces were all full by the time we came back from Kidsgrove with bread and milk. On Saturday morning we decided to move up closer to Kidsgrove and do a big shop to fill up the cupboards and stock the fridge with fresh food before we went through the tunnel. On the way to Kidsgrove we stopped at Red Bull to use the sanitary station and fill up with water as the washing machine had been busy doing the washing.

We left Ben on the boat and went shopping and then had lunch. We decided not to stay at Kidsgrove for a Saturday night basically as we were the only boat on the moorings. We cleared the roof of the boat of plants and the satellite dish and headed off for the tunnel. We had no idea of what time we had to arrive by but got there at 2.45pm and the sign said by 4pm for a guaranteed passage. The BW guy came to remind us of the safety procedures and ask how many passengers- just us and Ben the dog.

We went through second boat of the three going through- we wondered if the hire boat would go very slowly through but he went at the speed of light and had lots of crashes into the tunnel sides. It was also very noisy- I don't remember the noise from a previous trip through so perhaps it was the boat infronts engine noise. The water levels were much lower than usual so the headroom was very good all the way through the tunnel. I took some photos to show Alan and Eiddwen. Ben doesn't think much of tunnels either and curled up on our bed!

Leaving the tunnel behind we moored at Westport Lake for the night with just five boats there. Ben and I enjoyed a walk around the lake after tea when it was quiet with just a few fishermen with all their gear. Apparently years ago Westport Lake was the place to go from Stoke if you didn't have the funds to get to the seaside.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Under The M6 At Hassall Green

Wednesday was a windy day and we stayed put moored above Wheelock. Nevertheless Ben needed a walk so Eric and I donned the waterproofs and enjoyed a windy walk up the locks to Hassall Green going under the very busy and noisy M6. We did have a beer in the garden of 'The Romping Donkey' before walking back down part of 'Heartbreak Hill' to Wheelock. We stopped to pick blackberries and I made a blackberry upside down pudding- delicious. We spent a quiet evening and all the mooring spaces were soon taken all along the pound between the locks. One boat hit us on the bow as he moored up but didn't even say sorry!

In the morning we moved on planning to continue up 'Heartbreak Hill' for about ten locks then moor up. Lots of boat traffic but with paired locks there it usually one lock ready for you. It was also very busy at Hassall Green as here it's a single lock rather than a pair and we waited patiently in the queue. The M6 goes over the canal here making it very noisy too- not a good place to stop for a good night's sleep. We continued on our way and finally stopped after the pierpoint locks. Eric found the dot in the sky and set up the satellite TV and then we had a lazy afternoon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moored Near Wheelock

Above Wheelock

We left our quiet spot near Sandbach this morning- I set off before the boat as Eric wanted to clean his tiller before he left. Ben and I had a lovely walk with only one biker for him to bark at and and some lovely friendly dogs to play with on the way. Eric caught up with me just before Wheelock and accompanied me to moor up at the waterpoint. We were able to top up with water at Middlewich but there was no provision for boaters refuse or elsan facilities, so we were glad to get to Wheelock and use the facilities. While the boat filled up with water I went and got pie and chips for lunch. We ate them before moving a short distance further on up through two locks to a quieter spot away from the noisy A road. We moored up just before the rain hammered down and we'll be staying put if the weather forecast for tomorrow is anything to go by.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aluminium Windlasses Don't Float!

We left Church Minshull this morning and Ben and walked ahead of the boat and waited at the lock. There was a queue going down to Middlewich but we were soon through with a few boats coming up the locks. We moored up and walked to Tesco as we needed some food. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush came shopping too. We had lunch and then it was time to say cheerio for a while as we were going south down the Trent and Mersey Canal and Alan and Eiddwen were going north. Six locks later we were moored just above Sandbach after a comparatively uneventful trip. I did drop my long handled aluminium windlass in the cut as we left Lock 68 when I went one way and Ben the dog decided to go another way still attached to his lead- oops! Even if Alan had been there with his magnet it wouldn't have made any difference as it was made of aluminium. Ben is whingeing as he wants to play ball so that's all for now folks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Plans Changed

We finally left Nantwich behind as we'd decided to go south down the Trent and Mersey as the Shroppie is closed at Shebdon Embankment. Apparently the canal is open but not as a north-south through route. We stopped at Hurleston Junction as the rain came down heavily but later the sun was shining. The wind was wild though so perhaps we did the right thing stopping after all. In the morning it was down to Venetian Marine to get fuel - we needed 126 litres- not as much as we thought we needed. They happily accepted our 30/70 self declaration as long as we filled in their form. We were unable to get fuel in Market Drayton - this seems to be the way things are going- fewer diesel outlets than ever as folk can't be bothered with the new paperwork. We travelled on to Church Munshall to moor up for a few days. We took Ben for a walk into Middlewich to get some milk and bread- it was an hour's walk each way and we picked blackberries on the way back so it's crumble for tea. Ben is out cold after his walk and we're melting in the heat but we shouldn't complain as I expect it'll be raining tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Going North- Leaving Market Drayton To Nantwich

BW wanted us to leave Market Drayton so it's north we go towards Adderley Locks to find them locked and a queue of about seven boats ahead of us and eleven arrived before we left. At 12.30pm BW arrived and with someone on every lock we got through the five locks quite quickly. BW was keeping a close eye on water levels and using one lockful of water to take each boat down the flight. Progress was slow getting to Audlem as the water was considerably down which meant cruising in the middle of the canal very slowly.
At the top of the Audlem flight a few cows had decided to walk across the canal and get out on the towpath side causing the farmer considerable hassle. Most of the 15 Audlem locks manned and they helped us through them to conserve water. Ben enjoyed his walk down the locks although I was getting tired .We didn't reach lock 15 until about 5.30pm and soon after that we were told the flight would be locked. No hope of stopping with large areas of mud as the water level decreased we headed on to go through Hack Green Locks and the return of fairly normal water levels. Twenty two locks in on day- a record for us and boy did I know it. It was a really quiet spot and the stars were amazing and we think we saw a stripey Jupiter through the binoculars. We're now relaxing at Nantwich after a two mile walk by Ben and I walking with the boat and we're moored up just in front of NB Shush with Alan and Eiddwen.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Moving From Coxbank Visitor Moorings

BW have been excellent at keeping the boaters stranded here in the lock pounds up to date on what's happening. They have also checked if we need anything although we're about twenty minutes walk away from Audlem where there are shops, pubs and a service station. They brought bottled water but we're OK as we have a good sized water tank and have perfected the art of a boater's shower which is get wet, soap up and wash off using minimal water! The stranded hireboats were escorted down the locks if they were pointing towards Nantwich, so they were OK. We just enjoyed a peaceful mooring until Sunday afternoon, it's a lovely place to stay.

On Sunday I was cooking paella for a late dinner/early tea- it was 3pm and BW knocked on the boat and told us we were being moved from our pound two locks down from the top of Audlem Locks and we were to go through the 5 Adderley Locks and travel as far as Market Drayton as we had services there. We moored up about 6pm and I reheated the paella. Some folks were not too happy that they decided to move all the boats nearer to the services - in all only four boats were pointing towards Market Drayton, all the rest were heading north to Nantwich so were moving down the flight. At Adderley some stranded boaters argued it was a waste of water not allowing them to go down as we came up but with the water levels going down as we travelled BW was keeping the use of locks to the minimum and they could wind (turn around) to get to the services at Market Drayton.

Anyway we're moored up waiting- NB Shush are still at the bottom of Audlem Locks in a very convenient place next to shops, services and a pub. No doubt they'll catch us up when the canal is reopened at Sherbourne Embankment. BW says the work will be completed by Wednesday and then they need to rewater the section but we'll just have to wait and see. There's about forty boats here doing just that!
We're being turned around and going all the way back to Nantwich to-morrow (Tuesday) after 12.30pm. Some boats have already left Market Drayton. NB Shush reversed back through bottom three Audlem Locks to turn around and is on it's way to Nantwich. BW are closing this section of the Shroppie until the leak is sorted.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Not Going Anywhere!

Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush nearly caught us up at Audlem but for a stoppage on Audlem locks caused by a leak at Shebdon Embankment. The leak is being repaired and BW is busy getting some water diverted to keep the locks in water as we wait patiently at Coxbank Visitor Moorings for BW to allow us to do the last two locks of the flight. We received a BW notice telling us not to move from our mooring and NB Shush is moored lower down the flight and they woke up to find a BW notice on their boat saying do not move from your mooring as well. We walked down to see them at Audlem and had a chat and a cuppa. BW is keeping us all informed and says the canal should reopen at Shebden Embankment by the middle of next week- until it does we're not going anywhere until BW says we can. It's been strange as the only boats allowed to move were two Anglowelsh hire boats anxious to get back to their base, so the usual very busy flight of locks is very quiet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moored At Audlem - Lots Of Locks

Audlem Locks

Changing Places At Audlem

Ben Waiting At The Locks

We didn't have to move far to get away from those wasps. In fact Ben and I walked as far as the aqueduct moorings just before Audlem where we moored up. We needed to get a few bits and pieces in the local Co-op and it's a lovely quiet place to stop but the boat did bang a bit with the Shroppie shelf.

We decided to move up through Audlem locks and stop at Coxbank above Lock 3 as twelve locks was enough for one day. We worked up through the flight by 2pm including a stop to top up the water tank after doing the washing. At almost every lock we swapped places with a boat coming down the flight so that speeded things up a bit with the locks all ready for us. One bloke on the boat ahead of us was complaining it was all too slow but another boater told him if you want speed the M6 is that way!

Ben didn't have a very good day a big brown laborador got aggressive and knocked him in the canal- Ben climbed out and got attacked again. Eric gave the owner a talking too when the lab attacked him for the third time as he passed our boat when Ben was on his long lead. Ben did nothing to deserve this! The owner had three dogs with him and made no attempt to stop his dog being so aggressive or put him on a lead. I took him out later for a walk up the last three locks in the flight and he had a nice play with a black spaniel who wanted to play chase as well, while I chatted to his owner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hurleston To Coole Pilate- Wasps!

Coole Pilate Moorings

We left Nantwich and headed back up to Hurleston Junction, as usual Ben and I had a lovely walk with very few people about on the towpath. We moored up to see how many boats were queuing at the junction as Alan was taking NB Shush up to Swanley Marina for a few days to meet up with Eiddwen and visiting family. As it was very busy we waited until mid afternoon before we worked the boat up the locks. The usual lockie was having a day off and this one even had to borrow my windlass to let some water down- say no more but he did as little as possible! Alan was soon up the flight once the levels in the pounds had been raised. We said goodbye as we were planning to head back down the Shroppie and they were catching us up later in the week.

In the morning we decided to stay put as Eric wanted to give the boat a good clean on the side that rarely gets next to the towpath- I can now see out of sparkly windows. Before lunch we walked up the Llangollen Canal as far as Bridge 4 where Alan was surprised to see Ben the dog sitting looking at him waiting for his morning biscuits. The kettle was soon on and a lovely cup of tea was ready after Alan changed the gas bottle- it always runs out when you don't expect it too. We had a chat before we headed back to our boat to have some Sunday lunch of lamb steaks and homegrown potatoes. Our potatoes growing in a plastic sack on the front produced 4 pounds of very nice spuds and lots of comments as we travelled on the canals.

We moved on in the morning turning around before Hurleston Junction was busy again. Ben and I walked as far as the Services and we stopped to empty the cassettes and fill up with water. We had to wait to use the water tap but enjoyed a good chat with a couple on an Elton Moss timeshare boat asking us about our experiences with Northwich Boats. An hour later we left the Services and travelled through a couple of locks until we got to Coole Pilate Moorings complete with picnic tables and barbecue stands. We also encountered a lot of wasps and Ben was really wary after the incident at Christleton where he had about ten wasps on him which I flicked off him- perhaps one did sting him after all. We couldn't understand how they were getting in the boat as all the open windows had fly screens and then we watched as they entered via the mushroom vents. Onto the roof and out with the nylon netting and black tape and all the mushrooms were wasp proof- we didn't do the one which houses the extractor fan in the bathroom as we thought they couldn't get in that way- but they did! One more to do as we watched them trying to find a way in through the screen on the front doors.

A lovely quiet night- battened down against the pesky wasps. At least I won't be woken up by a bee sting like I was a few nights ago- we now know how he got in- he must have dropped through the mushroom vent and landed on my pillow to be disturbed by me. Luckily he only stung my wrist but it swelled up so I took some antihistamines. We'll be moving on this morning hopefully to find a spot with fewer wasps as Ben likes to play ball without being dive bombed by wasps.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Back To Newport- A Busy Few Days.

Gwenllian (At Sally & Bob's Wedding)

On Tuesday I set with my backpack and caught the 11.30am train to Newport- it was time for doctor, dentist and a mammogram as well as visiting friends and family. The journey was on a very busy train as the children are now on holiday from school. It was cold on the Arriva train from Shrewsbury so everyone had their coats on. I arrived in Newport at 2.30pm and met my friend Wendy for a catch up chat accompanied by coffee and a naughty cake. Next stop was picking up prescriptions and a check up with the practice nurse to keep everyone happy. That done I walked to my dad's house where I was staying until Friday morning. He was pleased to see me and tea was waiting for me. After tea Paula visited bringing our mail which she keeps for us- thanks Paula.

On Wednesday I was up early as I had a 9.05am appointment at Tesco car park where the Breast Test Wales mobile screening unit is parked. The rest of the day was spent being thoroughly lazy apart from a lap of Tredegar Park with my dad. He wore his wellies and I ended up with soggy socks and shoes which took an age to dry out even though I put my shoes out in the sun. Travelling light I didn't have any other shoes but I wasn't planning on going anywhere until the next day. In the afternoon my daughter Sally came down for a visit- I hadn't seen her since she became Mrs Tiley so it was great to see her accompanied by the mad dog called Sam. Clare arrived after work- she always visits her granddad on Wednesday and he makes her teas for her.

Thursday was grandma day when my daughter Lisa was home so I could get to see my granddaughter Gwenllian for a few hours. Lisa was having trouble with her computer so after a few Windows Updates and a reinstallation of the AVG antivirus all was well. Gwenllian was a bit unsure of me at first but soon came round to give me some lovely smiles. It was a joy to see her walking! All too soon I had to leave as I had a dental appointment at 3.30pm - just for a checkup but now I have to come back for a filling and a clean in a few weeks.

On Friday It was time to say goodbye to my dad as I caught the train back to Nantwich where Eric was waiting with Ben the dog. He said Ben had been a very good boy but he was glad I was back to take over the walks. Friday was a special day for us our 38th Wedding Anniversary- the kids said a life sentence is shorter!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Chaos At Bunbury Locks, SUC

There was a queue to use the staircase locks at Bunbury and further problems as there is only one space below the locks due to Anglo-Welsh Boats moored two abreast nearly all the way to the next bridge. We had to wait at the next bridge while I went to see what was going on. The pair of boats ahead of us didn't bother to read the instructions for using a staircase lock and went in the bottom lock without preparing the top lock by filling it with water. They let a few feet of water in and expected to get into the top lock but just scraped along. They hadn't realised the cill was there. We told them to raise the water level and they eventually got into the top lock and out.
The next pair of boats entered the lock to come down- they couldn't read either and didn't empty the bottom lock in readiness for the water coming from the top lock. Result floods- luckily most of it went over the bottom gates and not into the Anglo-Welsh shop. No further holdups and we finally got to Calverley to use the services. We were moored under the canopy with NB Shush abreast of us when the rain came down again. It took ages to top up the water tanks and then we were on our way to Hurleston Junction for the night. Ben and I went for a walk up the locks onto the Llangollen Canal- very busy too even though it was 6pm.