Monday, April 29, 2013

Audlem To Coxbank ......Eleven Locks!

The Shroppie Fly (under new management)

The Audlem Mill Shop

The first lock of the day!

The bridge before Lock 12

Going a lock pound
After a lovely quiet day yesterday below Lock 13 we moved forward to  the water point and topped up the boat while Eric got rid of the rubbish and visited the elsan to do the cassettes. By the time we were ready to go a boat had come down the lock so at least the locks going up would be empty ready for us. Most of the way up it was a case of changing places with one boat coming up and another going down, but as we reached the last three locks before we moored up at Coxbank we had to empty the locks to use them. It took us two hours to work through eleven locks and by then it was lunchtime and we missed out elevenses.......a cup of tea was definitely needed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

At Audlem In Sushine And Showers

Very early this morning there was a heavy frost but it was gone by the time we were ready to move. Just a short cruise to moor below lock 13 on the visitor moorings. Ben and I walked while Eric cruised slowly along keeping walking pace with me. At lock 15 the lady from the shop  at the lock helped us through on her side of the lock, the shop's been back open for a week after her problems with BW/CART. We bought some sausages.......sausage sandwiches for lunch. Quite a choice including chilli and chocolate, but we decided on pork!

After we'd had lunch we walked the short distance to Audlem, past 'The Shroppie Fly' which is under new management.....we'll have to give that a try. We shopped in the Coop so now we have some fresh food. The rest of the afternoon was spent  being thoroughly lazy. The sun (when it's out) is  feeding the batteries via the solar panels but every so often the wind gets up and we have a violent rainstorm, very shortlived though.

A  lazy Sunday planned for tomorrow after the obligatory dog walk of course. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

On The Shroppie At Coole Pilate Leisure Area

We decided to stay for the allowed two days at Nantwich giving us chance to visit Nantwich Chandlery which had loads of bits and pieces in it. We wanted a spare water pump, exactly the same as the one fitted on the boat so replacement would be easy. Eric spotted a long button fender for the boat while we were browsing and decided to replace the droopy one on the back of the boat. So first job was to put in ....definately a case of lying down on the job.

Hack Green Locks

This morning it was time to move on so we cruised as far as Coole Pilate on the windy Shroppie Canal. No queues at the Hack Green Locks today. Ben and I walked the towpath from Nantwich to Coole Pilate, in places it was thick mud and Ben had four black feet. He jumped back on the boat at the bridge before the moorings as there's the noise from the clay pigeon shooting which he didn't like. Luckily you can't hear it on the boat as it's behind a little wooded area.

Waves on the Shropshire Union Canal (Shroppie)

Out of the window you can see waves it's so windy, but we're  moored up now so it's s ok. We've been scraped along by one boat passing us battling with the wind...he did apologise...thank goodness for rubbing strips.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hurleston To Nantwich.....There's Room For Us Too

In the top lock of  Hurleston Locks

Still a bit windy but we wanted to get Hurleston locks done while it wasn't raining. We stopped to fill up with water and the went into the open gates of the  lock and lifted what pipe fenders were left........most have broken or got caught and floated away. The lock keeper surprised us by getting the next lock ready for us and helping us through and asking us where we were heading for this year.

The lock keeper filling the next lock down
NB Bendigedig in the lock pound

Ben and I had a good walk this morning while the boat took a right turn and headed for the Nantwich Embankment. We walked with the boat and yes there was room for us on the embankment. We'd planned to walk into Nantwich so Ben stayed on the boat as we were going shopping. Eric bought some shirts in the Edinburgh Woollen Mill as they actually sell shirts than are long enough, M&S shirts are too short unless you order online which isn't always an easier option. We also bought some fresh food in Morrison's before heading back to the boat.

We sampled the fish and chips in a little cafe on Welsh Row, very nice too.  I wonder where the name originated from. Lots of lovely old buildings in Nantwich too.

According to one of the long term moorers who I asked about Welsh Row, the name replaced the name Frog Street and was the area of town where the welsh people settled when they came for work as Wales is just over the border from Cheshire.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

From Wrenbury.........Five More Locks

Waiting at Baddiley Locks

Today we were up and away after a visit to the shop at Wrenbury for a few bits and pieces. The bloke serving in the shop was a really happy chappy who actually enjoyed his job.....service with a smile in Wrenbury Stores.We also visited Wrenbury Mill and got some Beta oil filters and another long throw windlass to replace the one that ended up in the canal during the last cruising season. I bought a combined long and short throw one this time.

The first lift bridge we had to go through was the electrically operated lift bridge on the main road, which meant I held up the traffic while the boat went through. Then Ben and I walked up the next lift bridge which was being opened by the lady off the boat infront of us, who kindly let us through. We pulled in to let the boat pass as I was dog walking and Eric would be going slow.

We did the three locks at Baddiley and then the Swanley Locks before mooring up between bridges 4 and 5 on the visitor moorings. Quite a few boats on the move today, so locking was a chatty occasion. I met the lady off NB Paneke, who asked if I was 'Mrs Bendigedig' after meeting Ben on the towpath. Hello again, nice to meet a blog reader.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Grindley Brook To Wrenbury.........Ten Locks!

Leaving our quiet mooring outside Whitchurch we travelling the hour to Grindley Brook meeting the first unhelpful boater's of the season who opened a lift bridge and promptly got back on the boat leaving me on the wrong side of the canal. The two following boats came through too leaving me to get across using the boat with the help of Eric's long arms. If it had been me I would have let the boats through then lowered the bridge.

Moored near the rotten tree 

We decided to stay put above the locks as Eric had an appointment with the Grand Prix and I wanted to cook a nice Sunday roast. We had roast lamb.....delicious.It was a good place for the Three mifi dongle and Eric's Three phone worked as a hotspot as he has a One Plan which allows tethering and all you can eat data. The mifi is usually a better signal but is restricted to 15GB of data which is excellent compared to other providers and costs £18.99 a month. If you want to watch TV or You Tube  that certainly eats up the data.

Ben at Grindley Brook

This morning we topped up with water, did the cassettes and then it was a busy morning with ten locks to take us to Wrenbury. First we had the Grindley Brook staircase and we had just one boat coming up, so didn't have a long wait. We had to fill the next three locks as the upcoming boat for some reason left all the bottom gate paddles open. Ben and I had a ride to Povey's Lock because I wanted some lunch and then we walked to Willey Moor Lock.Boats moving in both directions made it easier as we could leave the bottom lock gates open.

Just two more locks, at Quoisley Lock I bought a bag of sticks and some free range eggs (£1 for six) at the lockside. We were glad we only had one lock to do as we'd had enough of the wind. The house at Marbury Lock is still for sale with a mooring as I haven't won the lottery yet. A short cruise to Wrenbury, usually the bluebells are flowering in the wood and the smell is amazing but not today....just leaves and a show of wood anemones.

Moored up now, getting warm with a lovely fire.When is summer coming?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Whixall To Whitchurch In The Sunshine

A lift bridge on the Prees Arm
Today we woke to a heavy frost making the grass white but by the time we were up it was gone. I set off ahead and walked over the footbridge to go down the Prees Arm to open the lift bridges as we needed fuel and it's a good price at Whixall Marina. It's self service too, pay by card so it now doesn't matter if there's nobody about. In the past we've found the office closed and had a wasted journey. 

So full to the brim with diesel it was time for those lift bridges to be raised and lowered again. Even the fishermen were happy in the sunshine. At the junction Ben and I continued walking with another lift bridge near the breakers yard....a heavy one as it's a road bridge. We walked a bit further and got on at the next stone bridge, just one more lift bridge and then we stopped just short of Whitchurch away from any road noise. It's been a lovely day....boating is so much nicer in the sunshine.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Finally Ready To Begin Our Cruising 2013

Wood Anemones near Blakemere

Avoiding tree trunks near Blakemere

Wait for me!

Ben not posing with his stick

Plenty of wood about at Blakemere

Up this was a good day as the wind had dropped making our exit from Blackwater Meadow Marina much easier. We bought a few bags of coal and unhooked the shoreline. Now we are free to travel where we like, when we like.........yippee! I love cruising after all it's what we bought a boat for, although I love our winter's in Llangollen too.
I walked with Ben as Eric steered the boat, passing piles of fallen tree trunks on the banks waiting for visiting boaters. Some tree trunks were floating in the canal causing obstacles to avoid and  in one place a falling tree was so low across the canal it nearly took the chimney off.
We passed loads of wood anemones amongst the trees alongside the canal near Blakemere, a really lovely day with the sun shining and the birds singing. Ben enjoyed his walk with the boat, running backwards and forwards along the towpath.
We finally moored up near the junction with the Prees branch, not in our usual spot which now has bollards for disabled boaters to tie up their boat and signage to stop others using them.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back On The Boat In Ellesmere

Gwenllian with her granddad Eric
After a hectic five days we're back on the boat......we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with our families and friends with various meals involved. First we had a lovely Sunday Lunch at The Three Blackbirds in Llantarnum to celebrate my dad's 86th birthday.....I recommend the carvery there.

On the Monday I had a meal with Dilys and Wendy, friends from my teaching days, at The Man of Gwent on Chepstow Road......this time a sizzling steak......very nice too. We also shared a take away from Jasmine Rice, Commercial Road in Newport with our daughters and granddaughter at Lisa's house. The food was exceptional, the best Chinese meal I've had in a long time. Wednesday night it was back to normality with bacon and egg butties at Clare's house......they went down a treat!
Today we had a journey in reverse with only an eight minute gap between the train's arrival and the bus's departure to Ellesmere. I am glad we made it as the next bus was an hour away. Back on the boat we're staying overnight in the marina mainly due to the wind sweeping across the marina which would make manoeuvring the boat to the exit past fibre glass boats a nightmare!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

NB Bendigedig's In Blackwater Meadow Marina

A change of plan again, mainly because the marina had room for the boat so Eric and Ben came with me to Newport. It's that time of year dad's birthday......he's 86 tomorrow so we are having a family Sunday  lunch to celebrate. It's nice to get together.

Before the  journey to Newport started Ben and I went for a walk leaving Eric to pack his bag. I had fun getting Ben to walk on the pontoon but he got off the boat once he realised I had his lead and I was going without him.

When we got back he was all packed, the shoreline was connected to keep the fridge and freezer happy.Everything turned off except the galley supply, bilge and battery charger, which was on a timer.We were ready to go.

Our journey started with the 501 bus to Shrewsbury taking about 45 minutes, Ben  curled up by my feet.Then we caught a train  to Newport which took nearly two hours. Luckily the train was quiet so we had a four seater tabled area all to ourselves. Ben lead on the floor until we got to Newport and then he couldn't wait to get off the train.

Next we got a dog friendly taxi driver to take to our daughter Clare's house.Clare's peace is now up!,
Play with me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Walks Around Ellesmere....Sculptures

We're currently still in Ellesmere enjoying the dry weather. Ben and I have been out walking accompanied by Eric sometimes. I met another Eric while walking  on the Ellesmere Arm, he lives nearby but no longer has a boat......we used to regularly see him on our travels.

There's a sculpture trail in Ellesmere, you can visit the information centre next to the Mere and get leaflets on various walks. When I see the sculptures in Castlefields I just wonder how they managed to manhandle weighty items like these. There are some canalside too....I've included the fish....perhaps you've seen the picture before of it covered in hoar frost from the very cold winter we spent here when temperaturess went as low as minus 20!

Alongside the mere in the wooded area there are sculptured trees too, Ben enjoys the woods for places to sniff and water but that's what dogs do. It's usually pretty quiet there and you can enjoy the peace and quiet. We also enjoy walking through the wooded plantation area between the canal and Castlefields, you can hear the birds and yesterday we saw a woodpecker getting a he tapped out a hole high up in a tree.

Other than that, it's been the usual boaty jobs getting the cupboards, fridge and freezer stocked up so we're ready to move next week. Its warmer so the double glazing film has come off the interior of the windows, it certainly saved a lot of condensation over the winter. All we need now is a bit of sunshine!

Monday, April 08, 2013


Gwenllian enjoying a ride on a narrow gauge steam train


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Back To Ellesmere In Pictures

Ben in the Mere
The end of the warmer weather
Mooring at the junction
Mooring near Ellesmere

Ben in  Castlefields

The Mere from Castlefields

It used to look like this..but now retirement housing is built behind the old warehouse.

We are finally back in Ellesmere and here is a collection of photos taken from previous visits. I must take the camera with me.Today there was a biting wind despite the sunshine, and the mere looked like the sea with waves! Today we moored on the Arm and it's full tonight. After 72 hours we'll have to move but there's plenty of places to moor around Ellesmere.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Brr It's Cold!

Yesterday we were up and on the move by 10.30am even thought the clocks had sprung forward an hour. It didn't feel a bit spring like but the lambs were there in the fields we passed on little green spaces amongst snowy fields. We walked through Whitehouses Tunnel, Chirk Tunnel and over the Chirk aqueduct before I decided I'd get back on the boat. This was a good move with thick mud replacing snow on the towpath,  less snow on the towpaths made walking easier with the boats although the dogs were absolutely filthy by the time  we got back onboard.
Lots of boats on the move today, nearly all holiday makers heading for Llangollen  and asking about the fallen trees......could they get through? It looks as though we left Llangollen before the influx of visitors in their boats.  Bye bye Llangollen we'll miss you but we'll be back.
Despite the thermals we were cold on the back of the boat so we decided we'd moor up after New Marton Locks at  Jack Mytton's aka 'Mad Jacks'. We needed to defrost so I cooked a roast, with the oven on the boat warms up quickly. Soon we had full tummy's and warm bodies as we settled down to watch the television .....once Eric had found a signal....Freeview tonight as he couldn't get a satellite signal.
Today was Nick's birthday......Happy Birthday Nick.
Nick and Liz