Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ben's First Taste Of The Sea At Porthcawl

On Thursday we went to the seaside.....I haven't had a walk by the seaside for years so we had a lovely time. Ben hadn't seen the sea before but treated like a big canal ......straight in and paddling trying to catch the pebbles I was splashing in the sea. Of couse he had to taste it too but decided against a drink of salty water.


We went for a walk on the common at the end of Rest Bay and then the fish and chips were calling us.......I was hungry with all the sea air. Ben and I shared a chicken breast while Eric had cod while we sat on the sea wall.


Time to go back to Newport and my time to take the 'bull by the horns' and drive......since we bought the boat we've hired cars but I haven't driven any of them. Anyway I did it! You don't forget how to drive ......but it's much faster than riding a bike!   Eric was a great navigator.....I'll need to use navigation on google maps without him sitting there telling me the way.

Today  (Saturday) we drove back to the boat using Google Maps and Navigation to help us find the quickest way back to Whixall Marina......very helpful. NB Bendigedig has been fine without us, we're  going to have a day in the marina tomorrow  and out for a fortnight's cruise on Monday.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Busy, Busy Days In Newport

On Monday we visited garages galore and ended up at Elite Autos in Bristol. We were after a cheap 4x4 Freelander, but we found some dire ones until we went to the above garage. They valet the cars and clean them, lots of back to black finishes the outside.

Our daughter Sally's fiancee David is great with engines, his day job is working with aeroplane engines so he was in charge of finding us a good car. Dave & Eric went off on a test drive and even managed to get some cash knocked off the price because it needed a few small jobs. A very good addition to the family!

Today we had a very busy day, getting the insurance sorted out online and getting a tax disc at the post office. Followed by dog walking, visiting my dad and food shopping. After that we visited daughter Lisa and grandaughter Gwen for spaghetti bolonaise, garlic bread and I took the to have pudding.

Back up that hill to Clare's's so nice to have wheels....for a quiet evening....I'm shattered!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Another Visit To Newport

NB Bendigedig is safely moored and she's all alone as we are back in rainy Newport for a doctor's appointment. Sally came to get us with a little help or perhaps hindrance from her sat nav who wanted her to go somewhere else when she got near her destination. We all knew the way back once we hit the A49 so the irritating voice of the sat nav got turned off.

Today we didn't get up early so Ben had to wait for his walk down into the woods at Alt-yr-yn Nature Reserve and back along the canal. Then it was up that  hill back to Clare's house. Lisa and Gwen arrived to have Sunday lunch. Lisa did some shopping on the way up, fudge cake for dessert...yummy.

Gwen and I took Ben to the park to give her mum a bit of peace. After then she helped me make a ham salad for tea. Ben waited hopefully that she would drop something! All peaceful now, Ben and Eric are asleep.....nobody's snoring at the moment! Oops I spoke too soon.

Tomorrow we're off looking for some wheels, Whixall Marina is out in the sticks with Wem and Whitchurch providing the only shops etc.I could also get a Tesco delivery but we would still be pretty isolated in the winter months.You can book a bus but only on Mondays and Fridays on the Shropshire Link site.I'm quite looking forward to having a car after six years without one.......I love to see the sea!  I'm a  bit apprehensive about driving though, let's hope it's just like riding a bike .....that is you don't forget.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Cruise To Whixall Marina

Today we cruised from Grindley Brook to Whixall Marina on the Prees Branch with seven lift bridges on the way. I didn't have to do them all as we took turns with another boat. Now we're settled on our very own residential berth......not that we plan to be here all the time as we still plan to cruise in the Summer. We'll use the marina as a base to cruise from in the Summer and in the Winter we'll no doubt be iced in if the last few Winters are anything to go by.

We had a choice of spots and have 16 amp electricity, a water point on the pontoon and a BT line if we want one. We aren't moored up butting next to another boat on both sides so we have a triangle of water between us and the next boat, so I can even open the side hatch.

It's a lovely quiet rural marina, no trains, no big roads and we're watching the swallows dipping and diving and landing on the boat tillers! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Loads Of Locks- Moored Above Grindley Brook

In a pound between Baddiley Locks

Follow that boat!

A pair of swans with a cygnet passenger

Today we decided to cruise while it was stayed dry all day so we did loads of locks and moored above Grindley Brook in the last space at the end of a long line of boats.Lots of boat traffic leaving the Llangollen Canal and at Grindley Brook we met  more boats coming down although we were following a boat so sometimes we had to turn a lock.Lots of boaters helping each other which made a lovely change.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Back On The Llangollen Canal

We've had a long day today leaving Middlewich and going up the Hurleston flight of locks and mooring up on the Llangollen Canal.We finally managed to fill up our diesel tank with 133 litres of fuel at Venetian Hire Boats & Chandlery, under new ownership and actually pleased to see you.

A lovely day with loads of sunshine. We thought we'd visit this canal in the Summer, it looks different when the leaves are on the trees and everthing is green. Eric can't go past Hurleston Junction without going on the Llangollen.....his favourite canal.

We're going to pop into Whixall Marina to find out about a mooring, we'd like to have somewhere we can leave the boat and not have the worry about where we can stay for the winter months. It also means we'll be able to see  our girls a little more often.

L to R Clare, Lisa, Gwen and Sally

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On The Middlewich Branch (S.U.C)

Today we worked through the last few locks of the Trent and Mersey Canal.... I wasn't sorry to leave that canal it's been hard work. We stopped at the chippy by King's Lock to have some lovely cod and we shared a small portion of chips as they give you loads. We went down the lock and pulled in to fill up with diesel but they didn't have any!!  Hope we can get some at the next marina because we really need to fill up.

At Wardle Lock  I helped the boat in front through the lock as his crew went walkabout to get a paper.Then I emptied it so Eric could bring up our boat. We read the plaque about Maureen, she certainly had an interesting life.

So we're moored up at Middlewich,  quiet after the Festival  no doubt. I went off to get some fresh food from Tesco's while Eric  cooled down, it's been very hot today! A Good Samaritan carried my bag back to the canal...I must be getting old!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Services And Shopping At Wheelock

Just down two locks very quickly this morning with boats coming in both directions. At Wheelock we pulled into the Services and did the filling and emptying. While Eric was busy I popped to the shop for bread and milk . Then I went to the pet supermarket for Ben's favourite food...Wag although he also likes anything we eat. Ben and I had a walk for while and then got back onboard, stopping off at the Northwich Boat Co. hoping to get some diesel but nobody there on a Monday! Never mind there's fuel at Kings Lock.

Thanks to Sue on her blog for bringing CART's latest mad idea to my attention.The idea of a winter mooring permit so we can moor anywhere (not London area)as long as it's not on Visitor Moorings or near any facilities is madness. I won't be paying over £400 for that permit for a length of grassy towpath, if I don't pay I can stay on Visitor Moorings as long as the sign says. One reason they say for the planned change is the lack of take up of winter moorings but I know that on the Llangollen Canal the only moorings which fill up quickly are those with facilities and near a town, not many people are happy to stay somewhere with no facilities in the depths of winter so there was no take up of those moorings.....If you want to read it follow this link....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ten Locks To Lock 64

Buttercups galore
Moored below Lock 64 after a very busy time working through ten locks. There's certainly a lack of grease on these Trent and Mersey Canal locks making the paddle gear even harder to shift. While we were busy there was a casserole in the oven so we had lunch when we'd moored up. There's buttercups as high as the windows here giving a pretty view from the windows.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Going Down Heartbreak Hill

Duplicated  locks on the  Trent & Mersey  Canal
Today we decided to move even though the weather forecast said rain in the afternoon and a bit windy. Last night we had some strong gusts in the night but the satellite dish was still attached to the roof, Eric had tied it down.
On the Trent & Mersey Canal there are duplicated locks which speed up the locking process as there is usually one of the pair of locks set ready to use, but not always. Sometimes both are set against you. Today the boat ahead of was opening the gates for us if the lock was full ready for us.....a great help.
The old boatmen called the 26 locks in  seven miles from Wheelock to  Hardings Wood Junction where the Macclesfield Canal joins the T & M,  'Heartbreak Hill' as you ascend from or descend to the Cheshire Plain for all too obvious reasons as you work through them. Some of the lock gear was difficult even with a long handled windlass, and there's heavy gates to contend with as well.

Approaching  Lawton Treble Locks at Church Lawton
Lock 50  Lawton Treble Locks

At one of Lawton Locks a local lady was selling cakes, jams and chutneys in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital so we bought some strawberry jam. We worked through eight locks in all and moored up before Pierpoint Locks with another ten locks to do tomorrow! The rains just started but we're nice and dry inside the boat.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Few Days Away In Newport

On Wednesday I walked into Kidsgrove to catch the train to Crewe and a train from there to Newport with some visiting in mind. Eric and Ben came for the walk which took about an hour. The train from Crewe was packed, only two carriages with a Bon Jovi concert in Cardiff! I arrived in Newport to pouring rain and went to get a haircut before going to my daughter Clare's house. She's still waiting for her operation to sort out a bulging disc, the pencilled in date is now early August but who knows when it'll be. Here she is smiling.....doped up with pain killers!

We had a pizza and a lazy evening together, before our beds called.....travelling always tires me out. In the morning Clare was off to work while I went down to my dad's planning to take him out for a meal  If I could tear him away from his latest  diy job  replacing a roof window in his greenhouse. He came out glad for a change of scenery but didn't seem to have much of an appetite. Back at his house we had a cuppa and he said he was going to have scones, strawberries and cream for his tea, which I'd bought him In Tesco's!

Yesterday evening I had a Chinese meal at Lisa's with my daughters Sally and Clare, grandaughter Gwen and Paula......very nice to catch up with them and good food from Jasmine Rice in Newport delivered to the door. A glass of wine followed. 

Today I caught the train back to Kidsgrove via Crewe leaving Newport at ten o'clock back on the boat by two o'clock catching a bus from Kidsgrove to Church Lawton so I didn't have the long walk back to the boat.Ben was pleased to see me, as was Eric and it's nice to be back too!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Harecastle Tunnel And Beyond

Waiting in the queue for Harecastle Tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel!
Today I took Ben for a walk around Longport Lake before we set off to cruise to the portal of Harecastle Tunnel where we moored next to the Q here sign. We had an hour to wait so we made a cup  of tea and sat outside watching the boats queueing up behind us. Going through took about forty minutes and we chatted as the water dripped on us and we felt quite cold.We remembered the film called journey to the centre of the earth! Soon we could see the light at the end of the tunnel  and came out in that familiar rusty brown coloured water.

After working through some locks we moored up  and went to Tesco in Kidsgrove before continuing down the locks to Red Bull Services.We filled up with water before continuing down the locks to moor at Church Lawton where Eric will stay for a couple of days while I go and see my's Fathers Day this weekend.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cruising Through Stoke on Trent

A working pottery

Renovation in progress

 A derelict pottery with it's bottle kiln
We decided to make our way to Etruria Junction and get back on the Trent and Mersey Canal.  We worked through nine locks and three lift bridges today including the staircase pair at the beginning of the Caldon Canal. For a change Eric worked this lock pair using an extra long windlass as I had struggled on the way up the canal, while I sat in the depths of the lock. The previous boat had left the bottom paddles of the bottom lock open and we hadn't noticed so the water from the top lock failed to fill the bottom lock until Eric realised  and closed them and let some more water into the top lock.
Reaching Etruria we followed a very slow boat as far as Longport where he pulled in and then we pulled in to moor up. Now the moorings are full here. Passing through Stoke on Trent, I took some photos of the Potteries, one working  you could the white pots in the windows, another undergoing restoration and the last one with  it's bottle kiln alongside derelict buildings........a reminder of what the canals were built for in this area. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Retracing Our Steps.......

Today we were up and away by from Froghall, as the moorings are 24 hours only. We did have another boat on the moorings overnight but they were up and away very early.  I walked with Ben while Eric cruised as far as Flint Mill Lock, then I got back onboard as there were so many bikes and dogs on the towpath. I enjoyed the trip on the River Churnet  in lovely sunshine. A few boats about today but it was still  a case of turning most of the locks to use them.

At Cheddleton Locks, we did meet a boat coming down the locks and at the top we continued straight ahead towards Etruria. We finally stopped at the Visitor Moorings at Park Lane Wharf, where the services for this canal are situated. Lots of boats using the facilities but tonight just three boats have stayed put. Eric thinks it's a  good mooring spot as he has the satellite signal he wanted to watch the Canadian Grand Prix.

Moored at Park Lane Wharf

We're moored opposite a field of yellow  buttercups, a lovely sight!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The River Churnet And Frogwall

NB Bendigedig on the River Churnet
Today (Saturday) we went on the River Churnet for short section. It was a lovely river and Eric said the boat felt so different with deeper water. I walked  alongside the river with Ben  keeping him well away from the bikes and their riders. At  Consall Forge the river disappears down a weir and it's back to canal. We stopped at the water point next to Consall Forge Lime Kilns. There are four kilns from the days of forges, furnaces and mills. The Black Lion is over the canal bridge from the water point and it hasn't any road access, so anything is delivered on a sack truck. Looks a lovely pub, we may have to stop there on the way back.

At the waterpoint

Consall Forge Lime Kilns

Watering up  at Consall Forge
At Consall there's a Railway Station with a cantilevered waiting room which overhangs the narrow canal. A steam train passed us  while we were on the River Churnet blowing his steam whistle.....Ben didn't like that at all.

The cantilevered waiting room of Consall Railway Station

Looking back at Consall  Railway Station

We cruised as far as Flint Mill Lock and descended  the deep lock which has a gauge which tells you whether you'll fit through Froghall Tunnel.....we won't ......the cratch and mushrooms made the boat too tall. So we continued on our way to Froghall Visitor Moorings as we knew we could turn around there being under 65 feet. We moored up next to the metal fencing of the copper works, not exactly picturesque but it means we can go and have a look at Froghall Tunnel and the basin beyond on foot if not by boat.

The gauge at Froghall Tunnel

Lime Kilns at Froghall Basin

Froghall Basin with pontoons for visitors  that fit through the tunnel

Wild Garlic alongside the canal at Froghall Picnic area

The other tunnel portal

I'm not looking at you!
Ben looks disgusted on this photo..........he wouldn't look at me when I called him because Eric tied him onto the centre road while we moored the boat.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Locking Down The Caldon Canal

Hazlehurst Junction
Leaving our lovely mooring at Tunnel Pool we decided to retrace our steps back to Hazlehurst Junction and go down towards Cheddleton. Ben and I enjoyed a lovely walk smelling those bluebells once again. At the junction it was a sharp right and down the flight of three well cared for Hazlehurst Locks. We didn't see a boat until after we'd left the locks behind.

Before Cheddleton we passed a boat moored on pins on the visitor moorings but decided not to stop. We continued on past the Flint Mill powered by twin water wheels, although we could only see one from the boat. We passed another set of visitor moorings alongside a pub car park alongside a gritty path and gave that a no no too. Further down new moorings are being constructed opposite moored boats.
The Flint Mill

A closer look at the Flint Mill

A canal side cottage near the Flint Mill
At Bridge 42  a notice said Beware of underwater obstructions ......but where were they? So as we were passing some permanently moored boats we must have found one and got  stuck. We jumped around on the stern using the boat pole to push us free.
Before Cheddleton Locks
Cheddleton Locks were fine other than being alongside a factory.  Feeling the heat today we decided to pull in after Wood's Lock just after the lock landing. OK we could get in bit we had fun with the loads of mosquitos which invaded the boat. We had to shut the windows and put down the fly screen on the side hatch and kill the invaders! No fly spray so it was a squash them tactic, to make sure we were bug free by bedtime as the bugs really like me.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Moored By Leek Tunnel

A view from the boat side hatch

Today we had a lazy start so didn't start cruising until eleven. We didn't plan to go far just to the terminus of the Leek Arm through the Leek Tunnel. Ben and I walked as far as the tunnel, jumping onboard at the entrance to the tunnel as we'd have to walk over the low hill, the old horse route as there's no towpath in the tunnel. As we emerged from the tunnel walkers said "I bet that was a tight fit," but it wasn't as we didn't even have to lower out heads to go through it.

Inside Leek Tunnel

Another view inside Leek Tunnel

Reflections on the solar panels
Bluebells on the canal side
This arm is so lovely with wooded banks carpeted in really blue bluebells....amazing. As it follows the contour on the hillside it makes us think of the Mon & Brecon Canal. We moored just after the turning point after bridge 9, having turned around first. We left Ben on board while we walked to Morrisons via an industrial estate.....he didn't want to be left....we could hear him whinging and barking....luckily nobody about to hear him.

Ben by Tunnel Pool

Back on the boat  with some shopping, Ben was fine and loved his little tray of beef in gravy and carrots as a treat. We had some chilli beefburgers, very hot but very nice. Ben wanted a taste too.....but he didn't get any!

We then decided to go back through Leek Tunnel and moor up by the tunnel pool, just enough space for us with one other boat already moored up. Ben and I went up on top of the tunnel to have a look.

The view from the top of the tunnel

A view of NB Bendigedig from the top of Leek Tunnel

Eric sorting out the satellite dish

Ben at the tunnel mouth

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

On The Leek Branch

Last night was lovely and quiet  despite looking on Google Maps and finding we we near a big factory, obviously well camouflaged by trees alongside the canal. This morning we decided to cruise for a few hours, while I walked the dog along the towpath.

Todays cruising has been lovely, very few boats , lots of peace and quiet. The locks and lift bridges weren't hard. On the Stockton Bridge Locks CART men were letting water down so they opened the bottom gates for us to go straight in.....very helpful. 

At Park Lane Wharf we pulled in to fill up with water as the washing machine has been busy this week. About a mile further on is Hazelhurst Junction where you take a right turn for the Leek Arm, which actually is reminiscent of Hardings Wood on the Trent and Mersey as the one canal goes over the other canal on an aqueduct. Here the route leading to Cheddington has three locks down to go underneath the aqueduct. It's just another case of take a right turn to go left.

Just after the aqueduct we pulled in to the visitor moorings, planning to visit the Hollybush Inn this evening for a meal. We wished we hadn't bothered, first we were told we couldn't sit in the conservatory despite  there being empty tables and they remained empty all the time we were in the other room.Not at all helpful or friendly just told the menus are on the end of the bar. The  beer was  fine but my meal was chicken was a piece of chicken with a peculiar coloured sauce poured over it......never seen chicken tikka like that! Undercooked chips too! We won't be going there again.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Stoke Locks Then The Caldon Canal

The old boats moored alongside Etruria Museum

Leaving the outskirts of Barlaston we cruised today in beautiful sunshine. First of all we had Trentham Lock to work through with an audience of gongoozlers watching. I walked for a while with Ben the dog, not much fun as it's so busy with bikes. 

Back on the boat we cruised towards Stoke Locks, five deep locks with some hefty gates. We did have to empty a few locks to use them, but not all with other boaters on the move. Plenty of time to chat in the sunshine at the locks.

Eric waiting below the staircase lock

But the locks weren't over for the day as it was a right turn up the Caldon Canal. Adam on NB Briar Rose left a comment about not being put off by the first few miles of the canal as it gets better. At the staircase Lock I thought we'd be going nowhere as I had great difficulty with the paddle gear even with a long handled really was dire! I eventually managed to slowly  raise one paddle and then the other while Eric waited in the bottom lock.
Bedford Street Staircase Locks
We also were confused by the electrically operated lift bridge at Ivy do you lower the barriers by hand....? Eric came and helped. I operated the buttons to raise and lower the bridge and Eric helped put the barriers back up. We cruised until just after Milton, a long day for us but a nice spot with a field of horses  rather than houses opposite us.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Locking In Sunshine- Stone To Barlaston

Our basket of flowers from Great Haywood Farm Shop

Approaching the first lock of the Meaford flight

Meaford Lock pound

My other half helping at the locks
Today we decided to move onwards and upwards to Barlaston. The CART man clocked us this morning as he passed on his bike but we hadn't overstayed anyway. We've enjoyed our stay at Stone, yesterday there was a raft race and a car boot sale and today a fair is being set up in the park so perhaps moving on really was a good idea if peace and quiet was required.
Eight locks to work through as well a  stop to fill up with water and do the cassettes, so it was three o'clock before we moored up. Some of the locks had to be emptied to use as there was little boat traffic. At one lock in the Meaford flight we were asked to wait by a pair of boats, a boat and it's butty while they locked down both boats otherwise they would need to bow haul the motor less butty.
From Meaford Top Lock to Barlaston the towpath is closed with contractors giving it a new hard surface ready for the bikers! We haven't been up the Trent and Mersey Canal in the last six years so we decided to give it a try and visit the Caldon territory for us.The sun is still shining this Summer?