Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Visit To Congleton And The Cloud

The boat and Ben in the dark
Yesterday we had a stay put day as the weather was wet, wet and more wet. I did manage a walk with Ben for a couple of miles in between the heavy showers but the horrendous weather put us off visiting  Little Moreton Hall. I even lit a small fire as the boat felt cold and very humid with steamed up windows.
Today we carried on cruising or at least Eric did, Ben and I walked the towpath as far as  Congleton Vistor Moorings. I did remember the turnover bridge where the towpath changes sides just before the moorings. Eric and I  decided to walk down the hill into Congleton as we'd not been there before. We spotted a 91 bus so decided on the way down to catch the bus back up the hill. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely little town with quite a few banks, Gregg's, Boots, WH Smith and a Morrison's as well as hairdressers, barbers, cobblers, wool shop and lots of little shops with pretty stuff in the windows.
The town is called Beartown by the locals, the best tale about the town concerned the town's pet bear who died around 1600 from the plague and they used the money saved to pay for a new bible to buy a new bear according to Pearson's. Nowadays the town has sponsored a bear called Bosley who was rescued from a bile farm and it now being rehabilitated to live with a group of bears. There's a good website with lots of information about Congleton and a news update about the bear.
Returning to the boat with bread and milk we decided to move on into the countryside and stopped near Bridge 65 opposite this lovely view of the 'The Cloud' a distinctive hill at the end of the gritstone escarpment, which runs parallel to the canal. It's 1,125 ft above sea level and is on the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire. Lots of information on 'The Cloud' can be found  on Wikipedia.
A view from our window!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On The Macc

A bit blurry but Mow Cop!
Today we left our overnight  mooring and headed for the Red Bull Locks, stopping after five locks to do a shop in nearby Tesco in Kidsgrove. The sun was shining and boats were moving in both directions so it was it was  easier today. Ben and I walked to Kidsgrove, lots of dog walkers enjoying the dry weather too, so Ben was on his lead. The colour of the canal  is orange stained by minute particles of seeping out of Harecastle Tunnel.
Shopping done,followed by lunch and  we had just one lock to do before we turned right  at Harding Wood Junction, to  turn right again to cross Pool Lock Aqueduct and then onto the Macclesfield Canal. It always seems odd because the Macc is on the left of the Trent and Mersey Canal.  The water has now lost it's orange colour. Just one stop lock at Scholar Green to raise us a foot or so and we were on our way.  There used to be two locks but only one remains.

Ramsdell Hall
We last came on here in 2009 but I can remember very little of the trip. It was like exploring a totally new canal with the folly topped Mow Cop clearly visible. I loved Ramsdell Hall built about 1760, enough room for a mooring too! We are now moored alongside  an ornate  cast iron fence which separates the towpath from the field. There's also a footpath to Little Moreton Hall, a half timbered building even older than Ramsdell Hall. Perhaps we'll follow that path tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Locking In The Wind And The Rain

Today we did eight locks and the weather started off dry but soon hammered down, so we both had wet trousers as we didn't put our waterproof trousers on!  The wind also made boating interesting! We kept going finally mooring on the moorings near All Saint's Church, Church Lawton.
Although it was a steady stream of boats all going up the locks, we helped each other with the lady on the boat in front lifting a paddle to empty a lock for us, and us preparing the lock for the boat behind. She then came up and shut our the lock gate after  us. It certainly speeded up the process as we were moored up by lunch time.
We're planning to stop at Red Bull to get a few essentials before we leave the Trent and Mersey Canal to go up the Macclesfield Canal. NB Valerie may still be on the Macc so we'll be looking out  for you Jaq and Les.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Heartbreak Hill....Ten Locks Today

Queues going up Heartbreak Hill

Today we left our mooring two locks up from Wheelock and worked through ten locks. Progress was slow with so little traffic coming in the other direction and we also had to queue in the pounds between the locks. At almost every lock we had to turn it, by letting out a lockfull of water. Some gongozlers at Lock 57 asked why we did this telling us we should wait for a boat, but I explained we'd only seen three boats going down the locks in three hours. We moored up above Pierpoint Locks, pretty tired as it's been hard going today as I'd walked all the way with Ben the dog, as well as doing the locks.

paired narrow locks on the Trent and Mersey Canal

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sandbach To Wheelock And Beyond

Moored Above Lock 65
On Friday we cruised nearly as far as Bridge 160 and moored up for the rest of the day and night. We managed to work through Whardle Lock (going down) and then five up locks raising us about fifty feet. Ben and I walked a lot of the way. When we pulled in the boat behind was none too pleased to see know the doors get closed.......and then came out to watch us moor up without a word but not a happy face either. Apart from the occasional bang on the concrete sides when a boat went past, it was a good place to stop. A good cruise and we didn't get wet either.
In the morning we cruised past the home of 'Carefree Cruising' also the home of 'Northwich Boats', no sign of life. We spotted Northwich boat 104  moored outside and we are number 32, so that's quite a few boats in five years. I got off to walk the dog and walked as far as  Wheelock, just over two miles in all and it rained just as Eric pulled in to the waterpoint at Wheelock. We used the rest of the services before working through the first two locks starting 'Heartbreak Hill' . This nickname was given to the 26 locks which raise or lower the canal  250 feet in seven miles. A lot of  the locks on this stretch are duplicated with a pair of narrow locks, which usually means one of them is set for you.
So we're moored in the pound after Lock 65 and you can hear the golfers on the golf course over the hedge hitting their golf balls. You can still hear the buzz of the busy A road too.  Tomorrow we'll be going into one of these lock chambers, I don't know which til I walk up to do the paddles!
A duplicate pair of Locks (64)
The ducks came out to play today!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Moored At Middlewich

Wardle Lock Cottage
On Thursday we moved again down to moor at Middlewich as we needed food shopping before we turned right onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. There's a Tesco not far from the canal although it was better for us when it was Somerfield as you load your trolley, pay and they would deliver it to a bridge number on the canal where the boat was moored.
I also needed to see the pharmacist at the chemist as a horsefly had a meal off me when I was walking the dog yesterday morrning. Even though I'd taken antihistamines I still had a swollen itchy wheal surrounded by a circle of inflamed skin. The pharmacist suggested trying  a different antihistamine (Chlorophenamine Maleate), not one of the non drowsy types and by the morning my arm was looking much better.
The other necessity was a visit to the fish and chip shop at King's Lock, I walked down to get our tea and as usual the fish was beautiful! The best fish and chip shop we know near the canal.
Today we are leaving Middlewich with about six locks to work through before we stop and we hoping to be moored up before the rain starts.........we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Polishing The Boat On The Middlewich Branch

On Tuesday we left our mooring at Coole Pilate heading for Hack Green Locks where we queued to use the pair of locks but at least it was dry and warm. Ben and I walked there and to the outskirts of Nantwich, getting on just in time as there was a very muddy section of towpath. Next to one of the sections of 48's in Nantwich before the aqueduct is a building site so there was room, but we didn't want to listen to the noise. 

There wasn't any room further on so we watered up at the services, did a cassette and then it absolutely emptied down giving us an unexpected soaking. But we  continued on our way past Hurleston Junction where the Llangollen joins the Shroppie, and took a right turn at Barbridge Junction to join the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. We didn't go far just stopping before Cholmondeston Lock on the 48's.

On Wednesday we worked through the lock, luckily we didn't have to wait but there was a queue of four boats waiting to come up the lock. Down below the lock is the home of Venetian Marina Village which is undergoing improvements with new piers replacing the old wooden ones. Ben and I had our morning walk in lovely sunshine, while the washing machine did a load as Eric cruised. Minshull Lock was busy too but lots of helpers with six boats waiting to come up.

We moored up just past Aqueduct Marina as Eric wanted to use the Craftmaster Carnauba Wax Polish on the other side of the boat. So Eric's busy, the washing is blowing in the wind and I'm keeping an eye on the weather, ready to get the washing in if we have another unexpected downpour.

It makes a difference!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Down The Audlem Flight To Coole Pilate

Leaving Coxbank into Lock 3

Waiting to go down the next lock

Leaving Lock 7

Before Audlem
Up early for us and ready to go by 9.30 am as we had thirteen locks to do today. The sun was out and the sky was blue, so locking was pleasant. We managed to start locking with a full lock and continued down the flight with boats coming up the flight as well so we had very few locks which needed filling. In a few places some 'should have gone to specsavers'  moments happened where oncoming boats shut the gates on us but that's nothing new.

We stopped just outside 'The Shroppie Fly' for water, refuse and cassettes and then we finished the last three locks taking us into the long pound before Hack Green Locks. We pulled in at Coole Pilate Leisure Area at the end of the 48's and tilted the solar panels to make the most of the beautiful sumshine. A lovely spot with peace and quiet at the moment, sometimes they have clay pigeon shooting nearby.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday Sunset At Coxbank, SUC

Moored at Coxbank, SUC
Soon after we arrived and moored just off the visitor moorings at Coxbank, the boat in front of us left so we were able to move up a boat length. This meant we could get a satellite signal for our weekend stop. We wanted a few days to get a few jobs done on the boat. First of all Eric wanted to polish the one side with a special Craftmaster polish which acts rather like Tcut and restores the original paint colour and I needed to  clean the well deck.

After a pleasant Saturday starting with a walk down the locks into Audlem with Eric and Ben the dog we had a lovely if rather hot day.  I was busy making a new fly screen for the side hatch and Eric was polishing the boat. I didn't get around to cleaning the well deck but perhaps it'll get done today. The side of the boat certainly looks so much better  after Eric's hard work.

We had a beautiful sunset last night and Eric took some photographs.

I have been very itchy the last few days as a mosquito or two must have been in the boat overnight and had a feast on me, leaving a dozen bites while I was asleep. So last night before we went to bed we made sure no little pests were onboard. They didn't get me last night!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Market Drayton To Coxbank, SUC

Today we left Market Drayton, Ben and I walking for a couple of miles then we were at Adderley Top Lock where a stop was made for some lamb steaks from the farm shop. I know I've said it before but the lamb is beautiful, it just doesn't taste like supermarket lamb. The pet lamb 'Jack' still lives on with the farmer saying so many people ask after him you couldn't really say he's been eaten!

Down the five locks of Adderley was speedy as lock gates were open for us and we didn't have to shut any with boats moving in both directions. A short cruise and two more locks, the first of the Audlem Flight and we moored up at Coxbank on pins, no room on the visitor moorings. No satellite signal either  but the fishy shaped aerial works fine so we have Freeview.

As we had some lunch it actually hammered down with rain, we missed it again which was great. Salmon for tea with the heads and innards removed by the fishmonger in Morrison's.......a job I really don't like!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lack Of Signal Meant No Blog Updates

Norbury Wharf
Turning onto the Shropshire Union Canal at Autherley Junction was acchieved after a short wait with boats  coming off the Shroppie onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal. We didn't stop until we moored near Bridge 8 which soon filled up with moored boats. That was where we spent a very quiet Monday night.

On Tuesday Ben and I walked to Brewood while Eric steered the boat mooring up at the visitor's moorings under the trees so we go and get some bread, milk and fruit. We spotted a sign for a butcher's advertising award winning pies so we bought two, one for tea and one for the freezer for another day. The pies were still hot and proved to be delicious!

We didn't want to stay in the dark, dingy cutting so we moved on stopping at Little Onn near Bridge 8 where we found there wasn't a Shroppie shelf to cause us the problem of banging in the night. We did have loads of flies though with cows nearby. In the morning several cows escaped the field and tasted the grass on the towpath before the farmer came to retrieve them.

On Wednesday we moved on and arrived at the end of a long line of boats moored at Norbury Wharf and moored up. Just in time too as it absolutely emptied down, but no leaks on NB Bendigedig. It made me think of a holiday thirty years ago when the hired boat leaked like a sieve around the windows and doors. How do I know it was thirty years -well I was pregnant with my youngest daughter Lisa who is now thirty.

Today (Thursday) we moved again, Ben and I had to get back on the boat to go through Grub Street Cutting as it's usually pretty wet. We got back off to continue our walk. The towpath at Woodseaves Cutting is now closed due to all the rock falls and it's getting more and more overgrown. After that it was down Tyrley Locks, a flight of five locks. With boats coming in both directions we made great progress planning to moor up alongside the school playing fields but there were no spaces. We filled up with water and hoped to find a spot so we could do a Morrison's shop. A boat was leaving on the 48 hour moorings so we were in luck.

The shopping's done and it's time to put my feet up and relax!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Heading For The Shroppie

The much photographed Gailey Toll House- now a Gift Shop

We left our mooring a few locks down from Gailey after I'd walked up to get a Sunday paper with Ben. Arriving at the Shell Garage I was told you'll have to wait!  (he was having a fuel delivery). Definately a happy chappy! But luckily for me the sandwich delivery man came- he wouldn't wait, so I got my paper a bit quicker with the garage guy saying I was lucky! What happened to service with a smile.

Just two locks to do until Autherley Junction and at Gailey Lock the heavens opened with a heavy down pour and I got pretty wet as my coat was on the boat. The rain continied so we pulled over near Bridge 74 knowing it was a nice quiet spot.

Eric had a lovely job to do , cleaning out the shower filter as the pump was sluggish. Later we decided to give the cream roof a wash but ended up scrubbing it, but it definately a better colour now. You don't realise quite how dirty it is until you wash it. The rest of the day was spent being thoroughly lazy, reading the paper and watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Eric saw it all but by 10.30 my bed was calling me.

This  morning we'll be up and away, just one small lock at Autherley Junction and we'll be back on the Shroppie (Shropshire Union Canal) with its embankments and cuttings- one of Eric's favourite canals.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cruising From Deptmore To Gailey

Eric at Bogg's Lock, Staffs & Worcs Canal
Today we left our mooring above Deptmore lock and there was a boat waiting to take our space. Ben and I walked admiring the posh houses and lovely gardens of Acton Trussell as we passed  through.  We did a couple of locks and stopped at Midland Chandlers as the Elsan fluid is on offer ( 2 x 5 litres for £20) which is nearly £8 cheaper than elsewhere.

Before we carried on cruising we had some lunch and then it was five locks to get through before we could stop as it's very noisy along that stretch with the M6 running so close. At Penkridge we stopped for water, did the cassettes and got rid of the accumulated rubbish as it's the first lot of facilities since Great Haywood and we there a week ago.

Lots of boats on the move so it was nice to have gates open for us and plenty of people to chat to. We met the hire boaters from Gailey off on their rings in a week, I didn't envy them..... they'd need a holiday to get over it.

We stopped above Bogg's Lock, you can still hear the motorway but it's more a loud buzz than horrendous noise, I may need ear plugs tonight after all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

To Radford Bank And Above Deptmore Lock

Sleeping swans at Radford Bank (by Eric)
Eric returned on Tuesday after a train journey which proved rather stressful. Cross Country Trains have a system where the seats have an overhead notification of whether they are booked or available but in some cases it changes during the journey meaning Eric played musical chairs. He actually sat in four different seats being moved by the holder of a booked ticket each time and found no available seats on the whole train although there were empty seats. He was glad when that journey was over.

On Wednesday morning we moved to Radford Bank for a change of scenery and the swans asleep opposite the boat made us smile. In the evening we went and had a carvery meal at the Radford Bank Inn, very nice too.

On Thursday it was my turn to head for Newport for an asthma checkup and a dental checkup. I also needed to see the doctor as I've had a hoarse voice for a few weeks now. Anyway  my journey down was let eventful than Eric's, as I didn't get moved once although the sign said 'available but may be booked during the journey'. I stayed at Clare's house and we had a  curry for tea. All the health visits done so on Friday I went to see my dad before catching the train back to Eric and Ben the dog.

We moved when I got back to the boat just as far as Deptmore above the lock giving Ben a walk. He's a funny dog he wouldn't walk far with Eric.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

On Tixall Wide

Reflections of a heron
Yesterday Eric went back to Newport for a doctor's appointment, he needed cream for his psoriasis and the practise decided he needed to be seen before they gave him any more. The doctor  looked at him and his notes as the cream was what the skin specialist advised and just gave a prescription. The cream is expensive so perhaps someone was trying to cut costs!

Meanwhile I am enjoying the delights of Tixall Wide. Opposite the boat this morning is a heron on a reed island just floating along, and I liked his reflection in the water so I took his picture.

We've had some horrendous rain storms but luckily we've not been walking when it chucked it down. Today we'll walk between the showers, hopefully. Tixall Wide is full of moored narrowboats  but it's still surprisingly quiet. Sometimes you can hear the trains as they go along the track into Shugborough Tunnel but usually you could hear a pin drop.

We've met a few blog readers, the crew of NB Nomadic Starr and NB Like A Duck 2 Water all stopped to talk to us, so Good Morning to you and thanks for reading my blog. The sun has come out so I 'm off for a walk, when I've got dressed .......I don't want to frighten the locals!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Back To Tixall Wide

Gwenllian posing for a photo at Great Haywood
Leaving Rugeley we were surprised to find a winding hole just past the railway bridges which meant we could turn around far earlier than we thought. On the map it looked like Handsacre was the closest as the Rugeley one wasn't marked. Ben and I had a lovely walk while Lisa and Gwen were busy feeding the swans and ducks off the back of the boat. We only had Colwich Lock to go through and there were only three boats ahead of us so it didn't take too long with boats coming from Great Haywood as well. We moored up  a twenty minute walk away from the village and Eric managed to get satellite TV.

On Saturday morning Gwen was up at seven o'clock full of beans!  After a shower and breakfast we were soon ready to go and catch the bus from Great Haywood to Stafford. Eric and I were going too as the railway station is the other side of town to the bus stop. We popped in MacDonalds for a take out lunch which we ate in the park opposite the railway station. Gwen had her own Peppa Pig suitcase which she pulled along. We waved them off on the platform and then headed into town to get some vegetables before we caught the bus back to Great Haywood where Ben was waiting for us.We arrived just as a thunderstorm happened and found Ben hiding in the bathroom, the place he seems to go when he's scared. He wouldn't out until the storm finished so we had a very quiet boat.

On Sunday we went to fill up with water, get rid of the rubbish and empty cassettes before heading up to Tixall Wide for a few  days.  Thunderstorms again so Ben's hiding!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Toothache Again!

Lisa Gwen and Ben at Great Haywood
I woke up on Tuesday will raging toothache again! Pills had no effect so I phoned the dentist and travelled down to Newport so I could be there for 8.30am on Wednesday. Another extraction and then I went to visit my dad before catching the train back To Stafford and then the bus to Great Haywood. At this rate I'll have no back teeth left! Eric, Lisa, Gwen and Ben stayed at Great Haywood waiting for my return. Gwen is clean in this photo, by teatime she looked like an urchin!

On Thursday morning we headed for Rugeley to do a bit of shopping and visit the park with Gwen and there was a space at the end of the long line of moored boats. Later in the afternoon we reversed back a few boat lengths as a few boats had gone and we couldn't get any TV where we were .....rather close to the railway bridge.

Tomorrow we're  cruising up to find a turning circle  just to turn around and then go back to Great Haywood so we can catch a bus to Stafford so Lisa and Gwen can catch the train back to Newport on Saturday morning.