Monday, July 28, 2014

Good News

Ben the dog may not make it to the  top of Castell Dinas Bran again but he has been cleared by the neurologist  at the University of Liverpool Small Animal Teaching Hospital, so we're delighted.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sshhh ! At The Mere, Ellesmere

Yesterday we headed for Ellesmere for a quiet walk in the woodland area next to the Mere. It was lovely and cool under the trees and at the end we had a photo by the sshhh wooden sculpture.....this time of me and Ben the dog.
We took some bits and pieces to the charity shop as we'd been sorting through cupboards this week to get rid of stuff we don't need. With limited storage you really need to keep just the things you use. On the way to the charity shop we passed a cafĂ© with seats outside......someone was eating bacon sandwiches .......very tempting so we sampled some  on the way back.
Back on the boat it was another warm afternoon with temperatures of 80 degrees F with all the windows and doors open. The fan was working hard but I don't think it made a great deal of difference other than creating a breeze when it was very still outside. It's supposed to be a bit cooler next week......I hope it is.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Walk Around Colemere

A view across Colemere
Today we headed for Colemere by car as we knew a walk in the woods surrounding Colemere would be cooler than a towpath walk. I acquired one horse fly bite.....they just love me, but I'd already taken antihistamines for hay fever it shouldn't swell up.
Colemere is one of Shropshire's  meres or lakes formed by rain water accumulating in deep  hollows caused by glaciers in the Ice Age. It's a peaceful place to walk the dog and we didn't meet many dogs either. It's a long walk as far as Ben's concerned and he did well with no problems, just enjoying the difference places to smell and water as dog's do.
Eric & Ben at Colemere

The ride back to the marina was with all the windows open so it was lovely and cool. Back on the boat we had all the windows, side hatch and doors open to try and keep the temperature down. I've had enough of this heat now...I'm ok at 70  but over 80 degrees F I melt!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Walking In The Rain

Connie & Ben playing

Looking through some photos I came across this one when Ben was quite happy to play with he's just not interested. At present Connie is recovering from an operation on her knee and wouldn't be up for a rough and tumble anyway.

Since we been back  at the marina it's been unbelievably hot on the boat so we've been sat underneath the  big oak tree  in the marina grounds to cool off. Ben and I have had some short walks and yesterday we had a walk in Ellesmere while Eric took the shopping list to do the shopping......he did well too.

Last night we had  the forecast rain with some thunder and lightening and of course Ben came to sleep under the pullout part of the bed.  He spent most of the night there until the torrential rain eased. 

This morning we ended up walking in the rain but it was so much cooler I didn't really mind. Ben had a rub down with a towel so he was happy too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Back Home To Whixall

Whixall Marina

Today we left our mooring at Grindley Brook and cruised for about two and a half hours  with five lift bridges to do before stopping on visitor moorings just before the Prees Branch. We stopped so Eric could finish polishing the side of the boat. Now both sides are shiny and we have a nice painted front deck but there's  still have an endless unwritten list of jobs to do.

Once the polishing was done we did the final run down the Prees Branch to the marina.....two more lift bridges too. We stopped to fill up with diesel and get the mail.....a package of tablets for Ben the dog from the animal hospital. Now we are moored up and  back on shore power. We enjoyed our three week cruise but it's nice to be home.  I entered the photograph above in the BWML photo competition.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Marbury To Grindley Brook

Ben tied up waiting for me 

Today we worked through the three locks before the six at  Grindley Brook. At Quoisely Lock we bought some lovely duck eggs from the man who always helps us through the lock. He now sells bottled water as well as fresh veg, bacon, eggs and bread. At Willy Moor Lock the pub was shut as it wasn't yet midday. 

As we approached the bottom lock  of Grindley Brook a moored hireboat pulled out in front of us, not that it mattered as most of  the boats were climbing the locks anyway and we had to turn some of the locks. Two locks up we met a boat coming down and then we were amongst the next three boats going up the staircase once I checked with the lockkeeper.

Above the locks we did the filling, emptying and getting rid of rubbish before mooringnup just past the waterpoints. Then it was just a short walk to the '@29 Cafe' for a coffee and a scone with cream and jam.......very nice too. There's some very cheeky sparrows in the cafe garden that  sample your cake before you do, if you don't keep your eye on it. They are very tame and take crumbs from your  hand.

It's certainly blowy up here but it's not raining yet so maybe Eric will get a bit more polishing done on his very own 'Forth Bridge'. (because it's endless).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just A Little Further

We left a very busy Wrenbury behind after Ben and I went to the village shop for a paper. In the shop something went bang and everything went off including the electronic till so it was back to basics with paper and pen recording the items sold and the cost.

No plans to go very far after we worked through Marbury Lock as the towpath had changed sides and Eric wanted to wash that side of the boat before polishing it. He did the final coat of paint on the deck before lunch as I am a messy painter......I always end up with it on my hands although this time he did too!

Ben enjoyed running back and for between us on the towpath alongside the boat before he jumped back on the boat, luckily a shouted "No" stopped him front jumping onto the wet paint. It's a bit cooler today but still plenty of sun on the solar panels.

Eric's setting up the satellite dish for the cup final, thank goodness for i player then I can watch something else.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Onwards To Wrenbury

Yesterday evening we got a coat of undercoat on the front deck, and today it had a topcoat once we were moored up at Wrenbury. We've wanted to paint the deck as it had lots of rusty patches but we couldn't do it easily in the marina as we always moor up bow in as it's easier to get Ben off the front. If he jumps too far onto the stern deck he ends up in the canal.

Today's cruising included five locks and one lift bridge with no queues today so we arrived at Wrenbury at lunch time and found a boat sized space.Once again plenty of boats on the move and we usually met them at bridge holes, but it made locking easier as no gates to close on exiting a lock. It's always good when the lock gates are open ready to go in too.

We took a walk with Ben to the village shop for essentials- bread, milk and ice cream! It's been so hot! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Back On The Llangollen Canal

The entrance to the Llangollen Canal (dirty mark on camera lens)
Today we set off about eleven as I didn't wake up until 9.30, I went back to sleep after a wake up call at six when an early rising boater went past. It shouldn't have taken us six hours to get to Bridge 5 on the Llangollen but we hit queues firstly at Minshull  Lock with five boats ahead of us. I went up to help at the lock and by the time it was our turn there was still eight boats below the lock.

At Cholmondeston Lock we had just two boats ahead so not bad but there was a queue waiting to come down. Most waiting boaters came to help but of course when it was our turn to go up  the next boat down just sat on their hire boat and watched until the gates were open ready for them. Eric was tempted to shut the gates behind us and then one bloke came to sit on the open lock gate.......he must have heard Eric's remarks!

But our luck changed at Hurleston with a  very slow boat in front of us didn't turn right for Llangollen and a boat was descending the bottom lock just as we got there. In fact  all four locks had descending boats so there's a stroke of us luck, just passing in the pounds. I couldn't believe there wasn't a lock keeper on a Friday afternoon, as the two centre pounds were  low making it difficult to get out of the locks.  Stopping for water it was so slow Eric said he could pee faster!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Dirty Job Today

Just an hours cruise in the sunshine a little further along the Middlewich Arm just to find a spot away from other boats as Eric had a noisy job to do. Using a grinder with a scourer disc got rid of the rust ready for primer but the deck's still pitted. What a filthy job! After a coat of paint it certainly looked better and it was just one coat of grey primer. His overalls were filthy too, so straight in the washing machine they went. Ben's confused as we usually go off the bow and now it's the stern while we're painting the deck. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Stop In Middlewich

King's Lock
We were woken at eight by the cold and diesel boat's hooter, a bit too early for us but it meant we were soon away with just four locks to Middlewich.  Things to do when we stopped today, first a trip to King's Lock Chandlery for some paint and another bottle of Craftmaster Carnuba Wax Polish. They didn't have a bottle  left but he did have a pack of 'Wash & Wax' which included the polish we wanted.  Eric wanted a few bits and pieces in the hardware store and came away with a grinder hopefully to tackle the pitted front deck successfully.
We needed fresh food so we ended up in Tesco but it seemed quite a trek back to our  King's Lock mooring .......we've not used to pulling a shopping trolley and carrying shopping with  a car at the marina. Our arms and shoulders were already aching after the  heavy gated, stiff paddled locks of 'Heartbreak Hill'.
It's impossible to moor here and not have the beautiful fish and chips from the shop across the road, unless of course you've timed it wrong and they're shut. We had a long lunch stop and decided to stay put until the madness stopped at Wardle Lock with two boats waiting, another exiting the lock and some idiot waving his arms about coming down the T & M expecting to go under the full bridge hole and jump the queue.

Ben in his new  Wolters harness
Here's Ben posing in his new posh harness, it's designed so that the body strap is not just behind his front legs so must be more comfortable. Also it slips over his head with just the body strap to do up, a German  product  and it's well made too.  He love it and I can use the back strap to help him onto the boat if I need to.

Going onto the Middlewich Branch of the S.U.C  via Wardle Lock for a bit of peace and quiet soon.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Twelve Locks To Our Mooring

After another quiet night we set off down the locks to Wheelock,  we had twelve to work some were singles and others were duplicated. I won't bore you with more boats in the locks pictures, they all look the same. It took us about three hours with no bottlenecks until the last two locks before Wheelock when we had a queue, with the next lock having only one working paddle for the bottom gates it caused a holdup. 

At Wheelock we moored up and went of to the shops. First we visited the pet shop for a new harness for Ben with  a waist strap rather than the car harness which never stayed in the right place and slipped round his shoulders.  This one stays put even though the straps are fairly loose. We bought a sack of Wag, which is Ben's favourite food and some marrow bones too. We popped in the village shop for bread, milk and pop.....locking is thirsty work. We were planning to have pie and chips but it was closed by the time we'd done the shopping.

After  lunch break we continued for an hour or so passing the home of Carefree Cruising, the time share boats.   Bridge 160 used to be the home of Northwich Boats and that's where we picked up our new boat in January 2007. Doesn't time fly by!    We moored up after an attempt  when we couldn't get close  and the boat was at an alarming angle on a mud bank. It's nice and quiet  here away from roads so we're happy even though it's just started to pour with rain.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Church Lawton To Above Pierpoint Locks

Above Church Locks

Going down Church Locks

Paired locks at Lawton Treble Locks
Just going to begin cruising this morning ropes untied you've guessed a boat comes through the bridge hole. We planned to work through eight  locks going down towards Wheelock. Many of the locks were duplicated by Telford  and it makes life easier when you approach a pair as often one is full and the other empty, so there's always one ready for your boat. Today with boats on the move in both directions gates were left open for approaching boats which was so much easier. I was glad of my long handled windlass as some of the paddles were very stiff.
After eight locks we moored above Pierpoint Locks as we knew that to  go any further we would hear the M6 motorway making it's presence felt. A nice spot once we moored with no high vegetation at the bow so we could get off the boat with Ben the dog. Wild flowers at the galley window but too pretty to cut back. The sun is shining, the rain has stayed away......what more could want.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Sunday Our Day Of Rest

Yesterday we decided to have a day of rest, so today's it. Ben and I had a short walk down the locks from Church Lawton and back to the boat. He just wasn't going to go any further and was quite happy to go back and now he's asleep. We've had the church bells this morning  too so we know it's Sunday.  One thing about being retired is sometimes you lose track of the days.

Eric is happily watching the British Grand Prix after I hoovered the boat using a Dyson but we don't say dysoned do we. I'll cook lunch later as we didn't have breakfast until ten o'clock.....definitely a lazy day!

Ben's appointment has been changed to the 28th July  so we can see the same vet but we still need to  be back at the marina by the 18th as we need more antibiotics,  luckily they'll post us enough to keep him going until our next appointment. After that we're having visitors as Lisa and Gwen are coming boating. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Westport Lake To Church Lawton

Harecastle Tunnel southern portal
Ben and I did the circuit round Westport Lake after breakfast and then we ready to go. At Harecastle Tunnel the last boat of the three boats coming south came out and then it was our turn. We didn't have to wait at all, just a few minutes for the safety information from the tunnel keeper. It takes about 45 minutes to get through and it's noisy at first when the doors shut and the extractor fans come on. The tiny white spot is the way doesn't do to feel claustrophobic!
Light at the end of the tunnel

The light from the northern portal (no flash used)

Orange water at the northern portal of Harecastle Tunnel
The water at the other end of the tunnel is orange......I remember falling into this water when I was pulling the boat in a few years ago. I had waterproofs on as it was raining and the waterproofs and I needed a shower to wash off that water.
Going down to Red Bull Services
Just three locks down to Red Bull Services where we did the necessary filling and emptying before we worked through three more locks to reach Church Lawton. Usually with the paired locks one is ready for you but today we had fill three of them. I certainly noticed the stiff paddle gear and the heavy gates then remembered it's nicknamed 'Heartbreak Hill' as there's 26 chambers to negotiate before you reach Wheelock...... six done and twenty more to do. I'll have muscles at the end of this trip.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Cruising -Stone To Longport

Below Stone Bottom Lock

Craftmaster Canuba Wax polish- you can see the difference!

A closer look!

Going through Stone
After a quiet night in Stone we were up and away with at least eight locks ahead of us. With boats coming down the two flights of four locks it was much easier. I did the lock wheeling for four locks then Eric did the next four. Before we left I took Ben into the big grassy area left of the sports pitches  for a walk, I took a ball but once he'd found it he just hung on to it carrying it in his mouth until we got back to the boat.

As usual time to chat at the locks with other boaters', while Ben waited patiently tied to a bollard. We passed Barlaston by, do you remember Paula when you came to see us there and Oscar went for a dip and you dried him with the hair drier. That must be years ago because we didn't have Ben the dog and he's seven years old now. My hair drier usually only comes out when Lisa comes to stay.

We've got Stoke locks ahead of us and a very nice mooring spot at Westport Lake depending how far we cruise today.


We made it to Longport but got very wet on the way. We had a funny moment at Stoke Top Lock where there are handcuff locks on the top gate paddles. Why you ask? Well.....Eric and the boat were at the bottom of a very deep lock with the hand cuff key. He passed it up to me on the end of our extending metal boat hook. The man in blue from the lockside maintenance depot who was locking up asked if we were hireboaters when he realised we had a problem but left us to it when we weren't ! I will remember to keep a handcuff in my pocket.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Weston-on-Trent To Moor In Stone

Last night we moored up just after Weston Lock where there was a nicely cut section of towpath just the right size. It was a good place as a little further along the railway noise spoils the peace of the canal. Today we worked through just two locks as we meandered alongside the River Trent according to the Pearson's guide, although we couldn't see the river. Aston lock's top gate took three bums on the beam to get it open.

We continued on our way with fingers crossed for a space on Stone Visitor Moorings.....we were in luck. Ben enjoyed a walk in the park alongside the River Trent before we left him on the boat to go and have a wander in the town. Eric lost his curls in a barber's shop, it's short but a good cut with a very chatty lady barber armed with a clippers!

Just been out for another walk in the park before I cooked  chilli for tea. We had strawberries for afters......Ben likes strawberries but he only got one!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Radford Bank Onwards- Up The Trent and Mersey Canal

Tixall Lock & the lock cottage

a view of Tixall Wide

Tixall Wide is wide

Another view of Tixall Lock

Today we didn't leave Radford Bank until eleven in the morning, Ben and I walked for a while but it was incredible hot and muggy so it wasn't a long walk today. We passed quite a few boats and found just one ahead of us at Tixall Lock. There were a few spaces on the Wide but we decided we'd go further today.
We  turned left at Haywood Junction and pulled in to a totally deserted  water point to top up the tank and get rid of the rubbish. Then we were on our way up the T & M Canal. Don't know how far we'll get today but we need a mooring with no road could hear the traffic at Radford Bank.