Sunday, September 30, 2012

Moored At Market Drayton

The bridge with the telegraph pole
Before we left Norbury Junction we filled up with water and got some coal from the boatyard. The nights are cold now so the fire is lit in the evenings. Excel was £10.50 for a 25kg bag......not bad for a boat yard. Diesel was cheap as they appear to price match Turners at Wheaton Aston.
The picture is the one often taken with a relic of the past with a short telegraph pole actually mounted on the bridge. It's at the beginning of Grub Street Cutting well known for the state of the towpath after bridge 40, where I got back on the boat so I didn't have to paddle.........not that Ben would mind.
There's some amazingly high bridges in the cuttings especially in Woodseaves, although you can't walk through it anymore as the towpath is closed as they are concerned about rock falls and health and safety no doubt. The grass had been cut though so it's still usable in an emergency. We've seen three kingfishers, or maybe the same one in the cuttings, always an amazing sight to see them fish.

In one of the cuttings!

After Woodseaves Cutting you come to Tyrley Locks,  Tyrley Cutting and then you are on the approach to Market Drayton. Going down the locks is always easier and we actually met two boats coming up so gates could be left open for the approaching boats. Very few boats on the move today as it's late September and quite cold in the wind in exposed places.
At Market Drayton we were in luck, a space to moor between two boats our we pulled in. I went off to Morrisons on the bike  which was a great deal quicker than walking and I didn't have to carry anything with my panniers. I'll have to go and get another shop though as there's things we still need. We'll stay a few days as we're in no rush just making our way to Llangollen for the winter months.
A picture  of NB Bendigedig leaving Market Drayton (taken previously)
NB Bendigedig is flowerless at the moment so this is an earlier picture, but one I like. I need to get the spring bulbs in too!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On The Shroppie

Since we joined the Shropshire Union Canal on Tuesday I've been having trouble finding an internet signal that didn't take forever to connect and load. But Today at Norbury Wharf I've managed to get it to connect and load. This canal  has been a pleasant change from the windy path of the Staffs and Worcs Canal with it's long straight cuttings and embankments. The water is certainly deeper which has made cruising easier.
We stopped at Brewood to do some shopping and collect some more meat pies from the butcher in Stafford Street. They are delicious so I bought two to freeze as well as the steak one  we had for tea today.We didn't stay overnight at Brewood as it's dark and dingy under ther trees on the visitor moorings. We continued cruising and worked through the one lock at Wheaton Aston before stopping to use the services below the lock. I'd been busy catching up on the washing so we needed to top up the water tank. We decided to moor opposite the Hartley Arms as there was actually a space.
This morning with lovely sunshine and blue skies we cruised as far as Norbury Junction, mooring at the end of the long line of moored boats. We popped up to the Chandlers to buy a chimney hat as ours got lost when we last encountered a very low bridge. The rain came when we were having tea, so at least we didn't get wet cruising and now the rain isn't coming down the chimney anymore.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Just A Little Cruise Before The Rain

Leaving Brick Kiln Lock No.33

NB Bendigedig In Gailey Lock
Just two locks to work through today and a short cruise to get away from the constant buzz of the M6 motorway. Up and away by ten in the morning as we were hoping to moor up before the rain and Eric wanted to watch the Grand Prix coverage which started at midday.
We picked up some coal at Gailey Marine as we were down to half a bucket and then Ben and I walked alongside the boat as Eric cruised. Most boats were moored up today with just one passing us on the move. Of course when we stopped to tie up boats came from all directions so we had to hang on to the boat until they'd gone by.
The rain came as forecast but we were warm and dry. We'll see what the weather's like tomorrow!

Locking In Autumn Sunshine

On Friday we decided to stay put as the weather forecast said lots of rain. At nine thirty in the morning I heard a beep beep and Heather on NB Bleasdale stopped to say hello before pulling in a few boats up......I was still in my pyjamas! Later she came to share our sphaghetti bolonaise and we had a lovely evening with Heather keeping us entertained. Leaving Radford Bank on Saturday morning in sunshine, we shouted bye to Heather, no doubt our paths will cross again.......she was still in her pyjamas!
According to the calendar Saturday was the start of Autumn and it was a beautiful warm, dry day so there were boats everywhere. Queuing at Deptmore Lock for over an hour was the start of the ten locks we worked through, so we knew it was going to be  a long day. Ben and I enjoyed walking until we came to the section of canal which runs alongside a busy road, where we climbed back on board. This canal is particularly noisy anyway with the motorway never far away.
Above Penkridge Lock we waited to use the facilities  but soon everything was filled and emptied and we were on own way. The boat moves better when the bow is down with a full water tank.  Lots of people about and plenty of chat going on at the locks as we helped the boats through the locks until it was our turn, sometimes we had four boats ahead of us.
We finally moored up a few locks down from Gailey, six hours after we started so a long day for us but it was nevertheless a lovely day. I really must take some photographs!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Away Days To Newport

After a few quiet days at Tixall Wide I left Eric and Ben the dog to fend for themselves while I visited Newport. Plenty of food so they wouldn't starve and hoped Ben would survive a few days with Eric!
The trip started with a bus ride to Stafford from Great Haywood and then the train to Newport. Delays on the line meant my train was half an hour late which meant I would miss the connection at Bristol Parkway so I went  via Birmingham New Street instead. As usual the Midland Train wasn't busy but the Cross Country Train from Birmingham was very full. I did find a seat available but there was certainly no room to move with a passenger alongside me. I was certainly glad to be off that train!
In Newport I went visiting to see  my grandaughter Gwenllian and her mum Lisa. Clare and Paula came too so it was quite a family get together. Later Paula took me up the hill to Clare's house saving me the walk. We missed Sally and Dave who were away in London.
In the morning I had my final dental appointment with a filling, clean and polish. After that I went to visit my dad who was busy rebuilding his wooden framed greenhouse, but he did stop to chat to me before going back to work.  He's always doing something as he  likes to keep himself busy.
Clare and I had a little retail therapy in Cardiff in the afternoon, lots of looking but all I came  back with was a couple of pairs of pyjamas for Gwenllian......the last of the big spenders! We had lunch out too. Gwen loved her pyjamas and couldn't wait to get them on.
Today my journey back was much better, travelling via Bristol Parkway in less crowded trains. Lots of booked seats with no bodies in them though but I finally found an available seat to avoid having to move if the rightful seat holder arrived.
Eric had moved the boat to Radford Bank saving me the trip to Great Haywood so by one o'clock I was back on the boat. What a greeting from Ben , Eric didn't get a look in for a minute. Tonight we're sampling the food at 'The Radford Bank Inn' which is really good value for a roast meal. I'm thinking about the puddings at this moment!

'The Radford Bank Inn' is closed until Friday 21st of September for new kitchens so no roast meal. We just caught the No 1 bus to Stafford which stops outside a Wetherspoons pub called 'The Picture House' and had a steak instead.  As the name suggests it was an old cinema which opened on the 23rd of February 1914 and still in use until the 1990's. Lovely interior, well worth a visit, not bad food either!



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Meandering Stone To Tixall Wide

Looking back at Haywood Junction

On Thursday we decided to leave Stone behind and cruise for a few hours to moor up just short of Weston on Trent. Ben and I enjoyed a pleasant walk with just us walking the towpath which meant meant Ben was free of his lead. We passed the new marina at Stone just twenty minutes walk from Stone after working throught the lock, where a milepost shows it's the halfway point on the Trent and Mersey Canal between Preston Brook and Shardlow. No uphill traffic so we had to fill the lock to go down, we knew there was a boat in front of us and several in a queue following us.
We managed to moor up after Bridge 81 by finding a space to put  chains down on the old metal bars along the bankside............our usual mooring spot before the bridge was already filled. Later in the day we lit the fire as the temperature drops down during the night leaving lots of condensation on the windows. Eric resealed around the interior windows while they were nice and dry as a few cracks had appeared in the sealant around the metal frames.
We needed water on Friday, very evident with the amount of bow out of the water! So we had to move despite it being a very windy day, wind always makes narrowboating interesting to say the least especially when you need to get into a lock mouth or round a corner at a junction.  After filling up with water which took an age we had fun getting through the bridge at  Haywood Junction to go up to Tixall Wide as the wind caught us as we waited for a boat to come through the bridge hole.
Anglowelsh were having problems too, as they had no electricity so couldn't process card payments, we paid for our gas bottle in cash but wouldn't have had enough cash if we needed a tank of diesel. Luckily we didn't need fuel as we'd filled up at Heritage Marina on the Macclesfield Canal. We passed some workers on the pylons on our way to Tixall Wide, hopefully sorting out the lack of power.

Tixall Wide from the boat side hatch( it's nice and calm on Saturday)
We found  a space to moor at the far end of the Wide, protected we hoped from the wind by a screen of trees opposite us. Luckily the wind was blowing us towards the bank so mooring up wasn't a problem. It quite usual to have waves here as it's open but it's always a lovely quiet place to stop for a few  days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gwen 'Hanging Around'

Gwen in her school uniform
Who left me hanging around? (Dad?)

My grandaughter Gwenllian started school last Thursday.......time certainly goes by quickly as you get older. I'm pleased to say that according to her mum she loves school. Thanks Lisa and Gerwyn for the photos. I love the one of her 'hanging around'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Locking Down To Stone

Up bright and early ..for us anyway.....and away by 9.30am as we had eight locks to go down to Stone and we hoped to get a mooring at the bottom of the locks. It usually fills up quickly with boats going shopping in Stone.
Passing through the first bridge hole and going past a stream of moored boats, a voice shouted to was Heather who we last saw on the Rochdale Canal as she followed us up a flight of locks. Arranging to meet later we carried on and at the first lock there was a queue to go down to Stone.
So progress was slow as almost every lock had to filled before we could use it, but plenty of time to chat with boaters at the lock as I helped them with the paddles hoping to speed up the process. In all it took us four hours until we were safely moored up on the five day moorings in the very last big space. Later a few boats left with their shopping completed so the latecomers were able to moor up.
I badly needed a haircut with two months growth and waves in my hair, not a look I like! At 'Lock Keepers' the salon near the canal I popped in and asked about a cut and she asked me to come back at four so I went off to do some shopping to get something for tea before going back. I've had my hair cut there several times before and have been pleased with the cut, so it now feels agreat deal better.
Planning to stay put tomorrow enjoying a bit of civilisation before we head out into the country again.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back On The Trent And Mersey Canal Going South!

Harecastle Tunnel southern portal

NB Bendigedig at Westport Lake Moorings

Paired bottle kilns amongst new housing in Stoke
Once we'd done the shopping in Congleton we caught a bus back to the canal rather than walk carrying bags, lazy I know but it was much quicker! Then we moved on and stopped at the mooring opposite Little Moreton Hall. On Sunday we decided to move on and leave the Macclesfield Canal and head south through Harecastle Tunnel and down the Trent and Mersey Canal. It was good job we put on the sun cream it was a scorcher.
We stopped at Heritage Marina to get some diesel as we were getting below 80 litres, we knew because we often use the central heating in the mornings to heat up the water and below 80 litres it doesn't work. Filled up and soon on our way turning right at Hardingswood Junction we headed for the northern portal of Harecastle. We only had a half hour wait and then it was time for us to go through, the first time with a cratch fitted but no problem and we got through fairly quickly.
Next stop was the moorings at Westport Lake, a popular spot but only one other boat was there when we arrived but it soon filled up. Eric and I took Ben for a walk around the lake before tea, just back in time for Eric to watch the Grand Prix Highlights too.
In the morning we were last to leave ......what's new! Ben and I walked for a while and  Eric cruised but after an hour I got back on for a cuppa before Stoke Locks. A flight of five, so we walked again. We followed a pair of boats travelling together from the Caldon Canal and there were half a dozen boats behind us so it was mostly one way traffic with just a few boats coming up. I enjoyed seeing the potteries with the bottle kilns although there are still some derelict sites begging for restoration.
Some former industrial sites have been demolished and new flats have sprung up and it was great to see the paired bottle kilns still canalside amongst new flats. The towpath was definately a cycle track and it's up to you to get out of the way as they speed past. Eric was holding the boat waiting to use a lock and he got told to get out of the way! If I cycle I stop when I see pedestrians and let them pass me, it's not difficult to be considerate.
We finally moored up opposite Wedgewood Pottery, we intended to moor nearer Barlaston but on looking through the bridge hole all we could see was moored boats.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Retracing Our Steps

The last few days the signal has been useless and at the bottom of Bosley locks last night was non Internet, no phones but great satellite signal.  But we're just retracing our steps so not much to say.
In the pound at Bosley Locks
Yesterday I started the day with a three mile cycle ride to the top of  Bosley Locks with Ben running alongside the bike. Initially he always tries to eat my feet and is very vocal but I shout no and it all stops and we enjoyed the ride. We did stop a few times to let Eric catch up and Ben have a splash and a drink of water.
Eric working the lock
Working through Bosley Locks was good as each one was full, all we had to do was open the top gates. Going down is always easier and Eric and I shared the lock wheeling and the steering and I didn't crash at all..........just as well with the walkers watching me enter the lock! This flight of locks is unusual as both ends of the lock have paired mitred gates with no walkways across, so you have to use the bridge at each lock bottom.
Another view of 'The Cloud'
Last night we sat at the lovely mooring at the bottom of the Bosley flight, at first just two boats but a few moor came later. It's a beautiful spot on an embankment next to the aqueduct over the River Dane. From the window we can see a different view of 'The Cloud'. It's just so quiet here!
Today we're approaching Congleton,  Ben and I have had a nice walk  and then we're popping into town to do a bit of shopping while Ben looks after the boat.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

NB Bendigedig's In Bugsworth Basin

Bugsworth Basin
We made it to Bugsworth Basin after a very long day. The weather was great so we decided to make the best of it and get to the basin. Progress was slower on the Macc above the locks as there were far more moored boats and it was the same on the Upper Peak Forest Canal. The lift bridge we came across took a lot of opening, much worse than any on the Llangollen Canal. I had fun with the swing bridges too when the key refused to turn but then worked for Eric! I ended up taking the boat through the swing bridges.
Arriving at Bugsworth about five o'clock and there was room in the Lower Basin so we moored up there. You can hear the waterfalls on the brook nearby so it was ear plugs for me last night but I slept til 9.30am. In the morning we explored the basins with Ben the dog and then I had a ten minute bike ride to Tesco's to get a few essentials. Eric was sat on a bench in the sun waiting for me with Ben the dog, when I got back. He's a funny thing he didn't bark at me on the bike.
By teatime the moorings soon filled up, another lovely day! On the move again tomorrow as we can't stay any longer.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Moored Above Bollington

The Hovis Mill in Macclesfield

We left our mooring and headed for Macclesfield, through cuttings with high sided stone retaining walls and found space for just two boats at Macclesfield Visitor Mooring and a waterpoint . We were also a long way from the bank, just as well we only stopped to get a paper and some milk as the signs said no engine running on these moorings. Macclesfield is home to the impressive Hovis Mill which is no longer used for milling.
Moving on we finally moored up above Bollington, where the canal is above the town on a stone laid embankment. We crossed the aqueduct and actually found a space on the moorings just long enough for us. Eric got the satellite to work by putting it on a long pole, as I wanted to watch Dr Who!
NB Bendy at Bollington

We'd heard about 'White Nancy' but didn't know what is was until we spotted in on a hill. It's a white painted monument which was decorated this year to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. There's closer pictures and lots more information on this website.
White Nancy on the hill

Tomorrow we'll have a look at Bollington, going down the steps should be OK but I'll definately need a breather on the way back up!

Lots Of Locks At Bosley

Bosley Locks with the Cloud in the background
Yesterday we worked through the twelve Bosley Locks in just two and a half hours. Ahead of us was NB Cassie Too and they helped us by lifting the bottom paddle as they left the lock ahead. It turns out they've been reading my blog for years but we've never actually met in person before. Apologies for not mentioning your names but I must be having a senior moment !

We also met fellow bloggers on NB Like Ducks 2 Water and enjoyed a quick chat at the lock. A few days ago we met NB Cleddau who read the blog, can't remember their names either........sorry.

At the top of Bosley Locks it a was time to fill and empty things while some pasties cooked in the oven thanks to Ginsters... not home made.  They weren't as nice as the pasties you actually buy in Cornwall though.

On our way again and then we stopped a few bridges away from Macclesfield where it's nice and open and we can still see the BT Tower on the hill now south of us.