Friday, 20 July 2018

Can't keep up with Diana

Hi all,

Been a bit slack with my blog so all I am doing for now is keeping my Map up todate with where we are.
For the real information and supurb photos follow Diana at.

http://dianahough.wixsite.com/mollyrose.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Up the Caldon

Saturday 23rd June. Etruria.

In to Hanley in the afternoon to look through the museum, The Spitfire is away having it's restoration completed and should be on display next year. in the meantime there is a modern skeleton of a spitfire where it will go. A visit to a mall to forful a Diana need then back to the boat.

Sunday 24th June. 4 miles 3 locks, 2 lift bridges.

Diana walks to the first 2 locks which are a staircase. Has a think about it for a while then sets them with the bottom one empty and the top one full. we are going up. All works according to plan and we wander through some sharp corners as we leave Stoke on Trent. I remember having trouble getting Llanarrow around them 8 years ago and now having the same trouble with a10ft shorter boat. We pull up at a pub just before Milton to see if they do Sunday Roasts later in the day as Jim & Anne will be passing through. Place not suitable so we move on a few hundered yards and moor up. Jim gives us a call mid afternoon and we pass on our location. They are just 9 miles away and we are soon together. We decide on a canal side pub at Denford that we are driven to. A couple of pints and a meal then time to go back to the boat so Jim & Anne can drive home to Preston.

Monday 25th June. 7 1/2 miles, 5 locks, 1 tunnel.

We continue up the Caldon to the point where the Leek branch diverges to the right then crosses over the main line which is now 3 locks below. This is new to us and is a lovely canal but which after going through a tunnel terminates short of Leek. After turning the boat ready for the return trip we moor up have tea then walk the 1/2 hour into Leek. We had been here before by car with Alan & Marian. Diana remembers a lot more than I had. Some interesting brick and other buildings which had us taking photos till dusk before a long trek back to the boat. absolutely buggered.

Tuesday,26th June. 5 miles. 5 locks, 1 tunnel.

Back track down the Leek Branch to do a you turn back onto the main line. Down three locks, under the Leek Branch and then just around the corner is the Holly Bush Pub. This is where we had eaten on Sunday. It is lunch time with no moorings outside we go around the corner to find one and walk back. A long lunch, a pint, hot day, two more locks and we are done for the day. We soon find a wall to moor up to. It is a bit high for Diana to climb off the boat but time out is required..

Wednesday 27th June. 1/2mile. 30miles on a stream train.

I take a walk and find a spot right outside The Boat Inn at Cheddleton and across from the Railway station. We buy an all day rover ticket. The Tea and scones special was full so missed out there. It was a bit of a pity as the dinning car was called "Diana". The train, pulled by a small Tank engine travels west to Froghall where we are off for 30min while the engine changes ends before heading east past Cheddleton to Leek Brook Junction. There is no station here so we stay aboard as the engine swaps ends again before returning to Cheddleton. What next? Do it again but this time we get a bite to eat at Froghall during the change ends performance. So thats it twice, remember today is a day for taking it easy so we do it again, They only do three trips a day. For a variation we get off at Consall, the stop before Froghall. This is a station in the middle of bush which is proudly looked after as part of the Vintage railway scene as it was in the 50-60's. Plenty of photo oportunities here. Talked to an engine driver who had much knowledge of steam operations. More photo's as the train came to pick us up and complete the last run of the day. Sitting on the boat The Boat inn looked inviting so after a pint and a meal it was bed time.

Thursday 28th June. 5miles, 3 locks.

A bit of a different start to the day. I was up early to put some paint on the boat before the heat set in. About 7 we get a knock on the boat asking to borrow a phone. This dog walker had found a deer stuck in a lock struggling to get out. He rang 999 and I picked up a windlass and rope before heading down the towpath to a lock he said was 3 miles away. 30 mins later, either a fast walker or a short 3 miles, I find the deer still struggling in a full lock. Best option is to empty the lock and hope he can stand on the bottom I hooked the rope around his antlers to hold his head above water. He couldn't touch the bottom of the empty lock so I talked to him as we waited the 10 min for the emergency services to arrive and take over. It was not to long before we opened the gate and negotiated him out of the lock and eventually he bolted across some farmlad towards the bush.
For the rest of the day Diana and I set off past the lock of drama where I explained what happened. After stopping for water at Consall Forge we continued past the Consall Railway station. The station and canal are so close that we pass under the cantilevered platform. The next lock was the limit of our travel in 2010 as it was the last place to turn a 70ft boat. With Molly Rose at 60 ft we could now continue to Froghall. Well almost as there is a low and narrow tunnel 400 yds before the end. We moored up and walked the rest to take the photos. We have now completed the Caldon Canal and Leek Branch. An interesting event was when in a narrow bit of the canal we meet two boats comingthe otherway (only boats we had seen all day) they decided to back up and we passed further on.

Friday 29th June. 51/2 miles, 5 locks.

We walked back to the Froghall Basin to look at the basket making place and visit "Hetty"s Tea Shop" which had been recomended by one of the boaties we passed  yesterday. I would say the best cafe type food we have had here and at a reasonable price too. It has my recomendation for boaters and other travellers to partake. After that Lunch we head back up the canal and end up outside the Flint Mill at Cheddleton. Take the evening walk into town, visited a School Fayre and ended up at the Black Lion which had been recomended by a local a few days ago.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

On and Off the Trent and Mersey

Monday 18th June.

It's great to have met locals, some of which have become good friends. The Canal in Cogleton runs along the side of the hill near the top. Today we are taken to Tescos at the bottom of the hill so we can load up and have it brought to the top by car. Diana & I go back into the village part of the town in the afternoon. Charity shops get the going over.

Tuesday 19th June.

Once again we are taken touring. Lunch at a delighfull Pub on the outskirts of Gawsworth, followed by the long way home via Rudyard Lake and over the hill back to Congleton.

Wednesday 20th June, 11 miles, 1 Lock, I Tunnel.

A leisurley meander south with a stop for rain, visit a boat yard to enquire about selling Molly, fill with water and arrive at Harecastle tunnel as a flotilla of 7 boats are about to enter. Was a bit rushed but we joined on behind, following a working boat and Butty. Through in 36 minutes which is about average for us. Continued on to moor up at Westport Lake, Stoke on Trent. More discussion on Food but this time it is Diana wants to go to "Lidl", a mile away. Good choice as there is a new business opened in Tunstall just up from the canal. Must come back tomorrow when it is open.

Thursday 21st.

Off to the "Tool Station". Turned out to be a cataloge type operation similar to Argos. Might have been new to me but there are 300 branches in the UK and this one had been open 3 weeks. For those on boats wanting maintenance things for their boats this place is very convenient. Cross bridge 128 and go up hill. Next we are off to Burslem which has some magnificant buildings that we haven't seen since 2010. Not much has changed but we both have better cameras to record the images. On our way back to the boat around 1800 we toss the coin to see which way to go around a busy roundabout with very few predestrian options. The coin fell rightway up. We came across one of those back street gems and although closed were invited in after Diana had her face pressed to the window for a while. We were in a Chininey Pot Museum. It was closed for removations nether the less after a brief Health and safety briefing we picked our way through a magnificant collection of pilled up chimeny pots. Facinating guy who has been collecting, renovating and selling pots for 40 plus years.  He is hoping to have the museum building structure repaired and the pots back on display to reopen his museum when the ceramic poppies are brought to Middleport for display in a month or two. Just down from bridge 126. If we get the chance we will visit again.

Friday 22nd June. 3 miles.

Compulsory stop at Middleport potteries today. Just managed to squeeze molly on behind another boat on the mooring outside the potteries and lost Diana for three hours while she supported the English economy. I fiddled around on the boat. She did come back with an RAF 100 aniversary mug for me from the pottery next door. It will be treasured. As we left and moved around the corner we found extra moorings have been developed in front of the pottery. Arrived at Etruria, filled with water and now moored up for a couple of days on the Caldon Canal.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Congleton

Sunday 17th June. 4 1/2 miles.

Hair wash day and as a special treat after all the work the lock girl did yesterday we put the generator on the towpath to run her hair dryer. Also did some washing and found that the combined washing machine and hair dryer were too much power so we delayed the washing. All's well now. Wwe set off for Congleton with a stop for water on the way and a bite for lunch on the move. Arrived and moored up just 300yds from Alan and Marian's. Walked there and then it was off to Congleton Park and a free Brass Bands concert to celebrate Fathers day. It was a bit cold but we were dressed appropriately. Music was good especially a youth Steel band from Stockport. Railway pub for a roast and then coffee back at Alan & Marian's to finish the day.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Going Down at Bosley

Friday 15th June, 7 1/2 mile + 4 miles on foot.

Set off from our base of 4 days at Bollington. Stopped for water in Macclesfield. then soon after stopped again for lunch and have a chat to Richard on his birthday. From there we walked through Dane Moss to visit Gawsworth Hall in the village of Gawsworth. Diana had checked their website for details. What it didn't tell you was that today they are closed to the public, so best we could do was take a few pictures from the road and visit the church. Walked through the village before returning via Dane Moss. Back on the boat we continue to the top of the Bosley locks, a flight of 12. 3 kiwis from Tauranga moor up behind for the night.

Saturday 16th June. 1 1/2 miles, 12 locks, 118 feet vertically.

Rained most of the night so when we woke there was no enthusiasim to tackle the locks. We turned the heater on and  waved to the 3 kiwi's as they set off, having to get their boat back by Monday morning. Rained on and off till about 1300. By 1400 we decided it was worth moving although thunderstorms are forcast. These are the first locks since coming up them in September 2016. Diana goes to set the lock, looks at them a few times then comes back to confirm which paddel has to be opened. I reminded her that water flows down hill. There were some difficulties on the way down with low water and going aground in a couple of the pounds. As we approached lock number 11 the thunderstorm arrived so we put the boat in the lock and stayed inside waiting for the heavy rain to stop. Good plan except another boat coming down caught up with us so we had to move on during a really heavy downpour. I kept the boat under a bridge while Diana set the lock. We are now at the bottom, rain stopped, and we moor up for a dry but cool pleasant evening.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Exercise and Sustinance

  Wednesday 13th June.

The beacon (White Nancy) on the hill above Bollington beckons again. We have been told about different ways to climb up there. We set off the way we went the first time and got to the near vertical climb bit, read the instructions and realise they are still the same so take a different route which proves to be an easier. Still worth the climb but the weather is overcast and hazy with a cold wind so are not there for long. Return via some different streets and see a bit more of this quaint village. Return to a familiar cafe for lunch then back to the boat mid afternoon. Diana goes food shopping and returns via her favourite charity store. Third visit in two days. I do some prep work on patching bruise marks on Molly's hull.

Thursday 14th June.

Walk down the towpath to Dave & Angie's boat to meet up and take a bus to Maccesfield then Alderly Edge. Bit of a mix up with the driver who sold us an all day ticket that only worked for the first 3 mile leg of a 4 trip journey. Alderly Edge is the centre of the "Footballers Triangle" and all the footballers wives are said to give there cast off (worn once) clothes to the charity shops. Not so says Diana. The bus stop for the return journey is outside a Waitrose supermarket so I make a small and important purchase before catching the bus home again via Maccesfield. I do some paint touch up and finish the day with a simple tea of cheese and Tomatoes on toast.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Get together

Sunday 10th June. 1/2 mile

Moved down canal a bit. Time for a pump out and icecream. took on water and moored up a little south of Higher Poynton. A quick lunch and then off to Lyme Park. Did the walk we normally do. Up hill all the way for near on an hour. The reward was scone with jam and cream. Diana went to the house to check out what was a good secondhand book stall but it has changed and now not that good. Then it was the hour walk back to the boat Down hill! There was a bit of rain about so didn't think it worth going on today.

Monday 11th June. 3 1/2 miles.

Away at a reasonable hour with the intention to get to Bollington embankment when the overnight stayers have left. Good idea but most had stayed leaving one berth for us. So thats good but not so good for Dave and Angie we are meeting here. They come past mid afternoon and carry on a mile or so, turn around but there are still no berths for them. They sit alongside for a while as we chat and catchup before heading off to find another mooring. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday 12th June.

Dave and Angie have turned their boat again and come looking for a mooring with us but nobody has left this morning so it is carry on and turn again. By the time of their return one boat has left and they can fit into a mooring 3 boats away. So today is a meeting of boating Friends. There is us. Angie and Dave who we met comming out of Liverpool in 2014. Pat & Roger who we met going into liverpool arrive by car for a very pleasent lunch and chat in a local pub. Mid afternoon the car people leave us, Angie and Diana go charity shopping and the boys sit on the back of Dave's new boat and chew the fat for an hour or two.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Plans change

Friday 8th June,

On the move today. Just three things to do in Marple before we go. 1. Post some cards: 2. Buy some hardware: 3. Buy 3 days food.
Off we head down the street to the Post Office, a street we haven't been down before so we go past the PO to the lights at the corner to cross the road. While waiting Diana talks to a local about the PO and she says there is another one down in Marple Bridge. Well we have been going to go there ever since comming to Marple. We know it is a steep road down but thats OK there is a bus back. The weather is not the best with a bit of drizzle and a full overcast. There is some interesting brick work on the bigger houses and with the overcast sky I start taking pictures of chimneys and think thats what todays blog will be about. 






Marple Bridge is a pretty village
and visiting the PO complets task 1 for the day. There are a number of interesting buildings to look at before finding a reat place for lunch. Originaly we should have been back on th boat for lunch. Diana starts talking to a local at lunch and we find out about some of the history of the area and the location of an old mill, lake and waterwheels. So now we are going a different way back, no bus this way and an extra hill to climb. It was well worth the journey. The mill has gone but excavations have started on the foundations to give some idea of its size. 5 stories high and employed 500 people. The mill owner was one of the better ones in looking after his staff, became very wealthy and financed the 16 Marple locks. Past the mill we continued further away from the boat and visited the lake and waterway system used to operate the  3 water wheels to power the mill. All very worth while but now it is time to head back to Marple on the direct route uphill all the way. Bought the hardware and the food and arrived back at the boat a bit worn out. I guess we walked about 7 miles horizontally and, perhaps a bit exagerated, 1 mile vertically.

Saturday 9th June. 2 3/4 miles

Off we go down the Maccesfield canal 1 3/4 miles till we come to the bridge under the A6. Moor up, have lunch then walk the 2 miles (down hill) to Hazel Grove to meet an old friend John. Had a cuppa and a chat for about an hour before catching the bus (up hill) back to the boat. then off we go and moor up at a regular spot in the country side to complete our day

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Marple Movies

Thursday 7th June.300 yds.

Up early in anticipation of having to move off the lock mooring. Check Canal & River Trust, CRT, site to find that locks would be open 0900-1100. No contact from CRT staff but moved around the corner and took on water and then under a bridge to moor up for the day. Into town to see what has been happening on the lock flight. Lost Diana in town so went on to the locks. There are some narrow places as the side walls are moving in and restricting the size boats that can operate. Found Diana and went back to town for lunch and Charity/food shoping. Back on the boat early afternoon and spent the time titivating the bathroom. It had had a makeover before we bought the boat but a lot of trim had not been put on. Now it has. Just a bit of painting to do. After tea we went to the movies. The book may have been a good story but it hasn't translated to a movie at all well. Avoid "On Chesil Beach".

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Touring Begins

Monday 4th June.

Must have overdone it yesterday. Did a few small jobs in the morning then after lunch feel asleep and woke up for tea. Diana has spent the day organising her new blog while on power and marina internet.

Tuesday 5th June. 2 miles.

1125, engine starts. We head up the canal towards Whaley Bridge. Stop at Tescos to provision the boat with baulky and heavy items. The walk between Supermarket and boat is not far. Once the stores are on board we sample some with a late lunch before heading to Whaley Bridge. No moorings and Diana's favourite Charity shop has just closed so we turn, backtrack past Tesco's and head up the Bugsworth arm. Take a bit of a walk around the basin the settle into the real art of narrow boating. Drinks and knibbles on the towpath.


Wednesday 6th June. 6 miles 2 swing & 2 lift bridges.

Take a wander down to the kiosk at Bugsworth Basin and chat to the staff for a while before heading down the canal. We intend to stop at the marina as I have a bill to pay and it will be Dianas last chance to wash her hair and dry it with the 230volt hair dryer. As we approach our pontoon it is occupied with the engineer doing some work on their boat. We don't need them to move as there is an empty slot a couple of pontoons away. Mid afternoon and our farwells made we set off on a beautiful summers day. Great for Diana with the bridges; 1st, opened by a boater coming the other way, 2nd, opened by a fisherman who wanted us through as quick as possible so he could continue fishing, 3rd, this bridge has been converted to push button, 4th, the only one requiring any effort as she renewed her windlass skills. Arriving in Marple we couldn't get into the bank as there was a rock in the canal so eventually we moor on the lock mooring. Nobody is using the locks as they have been closed for months.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Molly Moves.

Wednesday 30th May.
A late start and a slow day. Got some more polishing done. The boat is looking apreciative of some overdue TLC.
Thursday 31st May.
A bit more motivated today but most of the day was again spent on the boat.
Friday 1st June.  3 miles, 1 swing bridge, twice.
Now that Molly is all polished down her port side it is time to turn her around and work on the otherside. She moved about 30ft down the mooring before getting stuck on the bottom. A bit of a rock and manual pushing she was soon on her way and heading down the canal. At the swing bridge it was opened by the proceeding tour boat so we followed through but were left to close it. It was such a nice day we motored past the first winding hole and turned at the next, 1 1/2 miles from home. Motored back but this time Diana had no help with the swing bridge, never mind. Molly was nosed into her birth with the dirty side along side the pontoon. A lot of polishing to be done on this side. 
The local chippy that closed in 2014 while we were on the canals is now open again with good reports on quality. We can confirm that the quality is very good. While sitting on a street bench eating we are approached by a local. "It is you isn't it". Yes it is. We met Helen during our last couple of days on the marina in 2016. They have a daughter in Gisborne and have visited us in Napier. After a quick chat an invitation to dinner tomorrow night is accepted.
Saturday 2 June.
We had intended to walk down to Bugsworth basin today as there is a music festival on but the day is overcast and a thunderstorm is forcast. The thunderstorm did not eventuate and the day was overcast and ideal to clean and polish. Molly is now looking like a new 28 year old.
At about 5pm we wander off to our dinner engagement to reaquaint ourselves with Helen & Richard. They have also invited another couple who have owned a boat, have vintage cars and she was the first or one of the first woman Air Traffic Controllers in the UK.  We spent some time trying to remember the names of a number of Controllers that emigrated to NZ in the 60's and 70's. One came to mind and when I mentioned it her eyes rolled and laughter erupted. Yes he was a well known character. The evening was a great succsess which was indicated by not leaving till midnight.
Sunday 3 June.
Molly is really presentable now so some titivating was done. Replaced the front fender, checked that the generator worked, filled the water tank so now ready to move.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Pilky's Tour

Saturday 26th May,

The day starts with the arrival of Jim & Anne to take us on a mystery weekend. We do know that it will involve National Trust establishments and a large Antique Fair in Lincoln.
Interesting fact; 26 May 2014 we arrived on the Lancaster canal and as we passed this bloke in his garden by the canal we made mention of what a good job he was doing. So started the friendship with Jim and Anne.
We head off South west past Buxton and through Ashbourne, Derby and Nottingham. Melton Mowbray, home of Pork Pies was further to the south, around Grantham to our first stop at the Stamford Antique Fair. This was on the village field with a number of stalls in a large marquee and many more around the field under individual gazebos. A cup of coffee with Bakewell tart to complete this stop. Heading towards Lincoln we stop at National Trust, Belton House and Gardens. We now head towards our B&B passing RAF Cranwell and through Lincoln with the Cathederal purched on the top of the hill. Stopped for dinner at the Pyewipe Inn alongside the Fossdyke Navigation. From here a short distance to Saxilby and Orchard Cottage. A delightfull B&B and delightful hosts.
Sunday 27th May.
After a lovely breakfast we are off south a short distance to a small vintage fair in the out buildings of Doddington hall. The hall is private so we didn't go inside. Adjacent was a farm shop with a good variety of food. All we bought was a scotch egg which turned out to be very tasty and custard tarts which were also tasty. Looked at buying some NZ wine but at 20 pounds a bottle decided not to. National trust Gunby Hall, near Spilsby was the next stop. Before going inside we had the scotch egg and custard tarts. Nice old house with well laid out gardens. On the return trip we called in to Woodhill Spar where there is an impresive memorial to Bomber Command 617 Dam busters Squadron, also a memorial representing the Vulcan and Tornado. 


Driving around Lincolnshire there are continual reminders of the large number of WWII airfields here. One can only imagine what hundreds of merlin engines must have sounded like all together. Dinner, a simple meal at Mill Lodge, down the road from RAF Waddington.
Back at the B&B we played Croquet before a very pleasurable evening with our hosts. Gordon, ex RAF Vulcan navigator had some interesting stories to tell.
Monday 28th May
Not far to travel to the Lincoln show grounds to attend a very extensive Antique fair. Truck loads of everything, furniture, jewelry, books, paintings. There were customers from all over the world buying by the container load to send home hoping to make a dollar or three. If we hadn't the problem of getting the stuff back to NZ I'm sure we would have made some purchases. We eventually finished there about 3pm having had a picnic lunch under some trees.

 From there we went for coffee at a garden centre before heading east to the North Sea. The closer we got the lower the cloud was and the wind rose so by the time we got to Mablethorpe it was a quick walk up to the prominade, look at the sand because the sea was in the mist and straight back to the car to warm up.
From there back to Lincoln for a bite to eat, which was a bit of a disaster, before returning to the B&B and another sociable evening.
Tuesday 29th May.
Away at a reasonable hour and heading North only knowing that at some point we will be going to Jim & Anne's in Preston. We drive over the Humber bridge as Jim has picked up the fact that I like bridges of all designs. We follow the M62 past Pontefract and Castleford, where my Mum's parents came from. We continued further north before turning west into Yorkshire Dales National Park. Such beautiful, breath taking scenery Stopped for lunch in Leyburn having just passed some Gypsy caravans heading up to Appleby for their annual horse fair. Diana's camera got a bit of a work out with them. Further west we visit Wensleydale Creamery the home of Wallace & Gromit. The place was packed with coach tours, general tourists, and a lot of walkers. Continuing through the Dales we arrive at the most impressive Ribble Head Viaduct on the Settle to Carlile railway as a freight train was crossing. 

There were cars everwhere and nowhere to park. I thought they were there to see the train but the cars stayed. Must have all been out walking. We back tracked a bit then turned off towards Dent. As we followed the stream down the valley on a windy narrow road the scenery got more impresive. We followed the River Lune to Lancaster then joined the M6 towards Preston. Great to see names of places and the occassional glimpes of the canal we spent 3 weeks on in 2014. Just before Preston we left the M6 to a friendly pub called The Wheatsheaf at Woodplumpton. A very nice home cooked roast was the order of the day. we took a walk across the road to visit the grave of Anne's parents before proceeding to Pilky's HQ. for a coffee before being returned to the boat via motorways. So our mystery tour ends about 9.30 PM. Not so for Jim & Anne as they now have an hour and half on Motorways back to Preston.
Thanks so much for the tour and your company.

Friday, 25 May 2018

First Country Walk

Wednesday 23 May,

Another day for recovery. Did eventually wash the top and one side of the boat. With that done the mooring ropes are attached and other bits and pieces back on top. Diana spent the afternoon walking the towpath the otherway to Whaley Bridge to do what Diana has to do. A three hour trip of which 1hr was walking.

Thursday 24th May,

The inside of the boat is now looking clean and tidy. In the afternoon walked up to Furness Vale where there is a Community Centre operating a shop, Post Office and cafe. It is only open for 3 hrs, 2 days a week and looks like it is the center for oldies. As we left Diana got talking to a local from Whaley Bridge and she walks down the tow path once a week for a cuppa tea and walks home again via a public path. We got talked into going with her which involved a long drag up the hill above the village. At the point I said it was enough for me. I was inticed to continue to a seat overlooking the valley below. By now it is down hill and we are at the half way point so carry on we do. From the top we can see a 10mile track we have walked before so I had better not be a wimp now. We Carry on down into Whaley Bridge stopping at a local farm for fresh eggs and tomatoes. Our guide leaves us in town at the ice cream shop. From there it is on the flat along the towpath home with a stop at Tesco's for a few bits. about three hours away.

Friday 25th May,

Cold with showers most of the day. The Eberspacher (diesel heater) worked a treat so we stayed warm and cosy until a walk to get some picnic food for tomorrow's adventure with Jim & Anne. Packed our bag, put the covers back on Molly and set her up to leave for a few days.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

More Ticks

Saturday, 19 May,

Back to the boat, Cleaning ,sorting checking until a voice from inside tells me that Meghan is on her way.
Into the car back to the let where there is a reasonable sized TV to watch the wedding. All over by 1400 so back to the Cleaning, Sorting & checking. Another ready meal at the let and feet up for the night.

Sunday, 20 May,

Pack the car and leave the let. Now it is time to start putting all the clothing back where we can find them. After lunch we remember early closing on Sundays so off to Tesco's to fill the cupboards. Oat cakes & Pork Pies are in the trolly to add two more ticks to our english favorites. With every thing on board we feel like we are back in the grove except I have taken over Diana's sore throat and runny nose and am short of energy.
Shortly after 5pm we hear a call from across the canal. Jim & Anne of "Pilky's tours" were in the area so called in to see us. We had a great old catchup but declined to join them for a meal, mainly due to my energy levels and we would be spending Bank holiday weekend with them next week. Early to bed.

Monday, 21 May,

The car is due back at 1130 so we drive to Hazel Grove and then catch a bus to Stockport. This being the 4th year we have been into the same phone shop to set up a data plan and get a new simcard for Diana you would expect it to be simple. This year the data plan was established quite quickly. Diana's simcard, another story. We keep the same number by sending each other a text every six months on our UK simcards. As soon as I put mine in at the airport it worked.  Diana has changed her phone and needed a smaller card which I thought would be simple, but no when they tried to find her number it had been disconected, Why? the rules have changed and you need to use the phone every 3 months. We last used it 3 months and 5 days ago. The end result after 60min on the phone, is that she can reactivate her number but they have to post the card to her. All going well we will have the card this weekend and she will have a phone again.

Tuesday, 22 May,

Diana has had a busy day as I spent it doing very little. Up for breakfast then back to bed. Up for lunch and make the bed. Diana has spent the morning on domestic duties which I slept through. After lunch she walked into New Mills to do whatever she had to do. I could only manage a few tasks but feeling a little better. Hoping for better tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

What happened to 2017?

Shortly after arriving home in 2016 I had an apointment with my Cardiologist who recomended that my Aortic valve had deteriorated to the point that a replacement was required. We all agreed with a time scale of 3-6 months for the op and 3 months recovery. OK, we could be back on Molly Rose about June and spend about 3 months on the canals. 
Then the reality of the health system started to show. the 3-6 months was 6 months to the day. So all prepared and ready to travel to Wellington on saturday to book in on Sunday for the op on Monday. WELL Friday afternoon about 3pm I get the call, don't come we haven't got room for you. So when can I expect to have the op? Don't know but it wont be in the next 3 weeks. After a wait of 3 months I arrive in Wellington and check in. Admission tests are made and much talking with the Surgeon has me in a positive mood UNTIL about 6pm the surgeon calls in to say that he will not operate tomorrow as he needs some more up todate scans and reports. Monday  I have a scan and am told that evening that another scan/test is required. Tuesday more tests and waiting for results, (Surgeon in Auckland all day). Late In the evening the surgon calls in to say he has the information to proceed, BUT there are no spare beds in ICU so you can go home tommorow. And when can I expect to be back? Won't be in the next 3 weeks! Eventually 3 months later as the northern summer is comming to an end I check in again at Wellington Hospital wandering what is in store this time. During my first meeting with the surgeon I tell him I'm not going home again untill the job is done, he agreed as if wasn't done soon life expectancy was not that long.
Fast forward: In March all was looking good so planning started to get back to Molly Rose in May.

Wednesday 16th May 2018
Started the long flight by catching a plane from Napier at 1545 and 31hrs later with stops in Auckland and Dubai we arrive in Manchester, midday 17th.Take a cab to a holiday let in New Mills, walk into town, do some banking, buy a ready meal from the supermarket, back to the let, eat and into bed.

Friday18th May
Suns up about 0400, we are up about 0630. 0830 and we are walking down the towpath on a beautiful morning to see Molly Rose where we left her, 19 months ago, in the marina across the canal. She is looking a little untidy after so long but inside is dry and home to many a spider and a lot of dust. Some windows are left open for ventilation. Talk to the engineer who says she is ready to go. All good news. Time now to catch a bus and pick up a rental car. On the way back we call into the near by Lyme Park, a National Trust estate to sample scones, jam & cream. Back to the boat to clean up, put back all the things we pack away each year. Getting fairly tired by tea time so it's Cod & Chips and an early night. So that is two ticks in boxes as we get back into our english traditions.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Goodbye to Molly Rose for 2016.

Monday 19 September.

Day around the boat.

Tuesday 20 September.

Into Hazel Grove by Bus to pick up a rental car. A bit disappointed as we ordered the smallest car available and normally are given the next size up. Not this time. We drive around the corner to Visit Uncle John (Barry's uncle) for a cuppa and chat before heading off to Macclesfield to pick up the material Diana wants for the dining room curtains. A huge warehouse with a massive selection. I can see why Diana likes this place. We leave there with an extra 10kg of luggage to bring home. We take the road to Whaley Bridge which we have not been on before. Quite windy for a well used road with us stopping when we could to let the locals race past.

Wednesday 21 September. 4 miles.

Motor off past New Mills then turn around and stop to fill the diesel tank and empty the holding tank before travelling back past the marina to turn around before backing Molly into position for the winter. The afternoon is spent packing what we will travel home with. All this is put into the car and we move into the holiday let at New Mills. F & C for tea. We make use of the dryers to finish drying all of the washing.

Thursday 22 September.

I am back to the boat to finish putting Molly to bed while Diana completes drying all the washing. After I have removed all the domestic water, disconnected the batteries and vacuumed I return to pick up Diana and we put all the linen away and place the dehumidifier pots throughout the boat. This done we leave and do a couple of bits and pieces in the car. We realise we still need to return a couple of things to the boat and do this on the way to the Soldier Dick (pub) in Furnress Vale where we will have tea.

Friday 23 September.

All packed up and ready to leave. loaded the little car with cases, bolt of material, hand luggage and off we go to Manchester Airport. Drop off the car and take the shuttle bus to the terminal and walk to the railway station. We have about an hour to wait so have an early lunch which turn out to be a good choice. Went to the platform and when the train arrived we loaded all the gear in and found our seats. we had requested forward facing, a table, power and close to the luggage rack. we got 2 out of the 4 so ended up traveling backwards to Scotland. train not very full from the airport but after stopping in Manchester the train was full almost all the way. Once we settled into the journey it was announced they had a fault with the refreshments trolley so there would not be a service today. Three and a half hours later, in not that comfortable seats we arrive in Glasgow on time and just as Murray arrives on the platform. We take a cab to his place and settle in for the week.


Pilkies Derbyshire tour

Sunday 18 september.

Jim and Anne arrive at the Marina having driven down from Preston to take us on another of their tours. We head off southwest to Chapel-en-le-Frith then turn West and steadily climb through beautiful scenery to one of the high points of the Peak National Park. This area is known for it's Blue John  stone which comes from one of the caves and is not found anywhere else. There are some high cliffs with many paragliders soaring along the edge. We now descend down a steep winding busy tourist road to the beautiful village/town of Castleton. There is no where to stop and continue on to Heathersage and visit the tomb of "Little John". He spent his later years here. After a bite to eat we moved on to Eyam. Eyam is known for it's actions during the plague. The town isolated itself when a villager got the plague and had no contact with the rest of the country until there were no further cases, thus stopping the spread of the disease into surrounding areas. There is a National Trust house, Eyam Hall. Owned by one family for 11 generations. They still own the house and live in the village but have leased it to The National trust for a number of years. It is well presented with a lived in feel to the house and gardens. We continue with a walk around the village and then look for a Pub, after all it is Sunday. We have our Sunday Roast in the village of Foolow on our way back to the marina via Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge. The Tour finishes with coffee on Molly Rose before Jim & Anne return to Preston. Thanks to you both for a Great Tour.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Furness Vale

Wednesday 14 September. 8 1/2 miles. 

Nice day to be boating. Stopped at Marple. While moored up we were passed by the boat that moors next to us at Furness Vale. They were on their way home too. After some lunch we went into town to take a load of books to the Charity shop where Diana found a shirt for me. Needed some polish for the boat and dehumidifier crystals to leave over winter. A cup of coffee then back for the last few miles on what is a lovely canal, mainly because it is on the side of a hill rather than down in a ditch. As we approach the last bridge, that is the beginning of the marina, we pass our Neighbors who have moored up for the night. They wanted a bit more time on the canal before leaving their boat.Nose  into the berth about 1800 and hook up to power before settling in for the night.

Thursday 15 September.

Wash the top and pontoon side of the boat. When it is dry it gets a polish as well. The weather is ideal, although a warm day the sun is hidden by clouds in the morning and then passes behind some trees so the boat is not too hot to work on. Quite noticeable how low in the sky the sun is. Takes most of the day but did have interruptions from passing locals and boaters.

Friday 16 September. 2 Miles.

Bit of a sleep in after a busy yesterday. Rain clears late morning so a bit of patch up painting is done. This is dry by late afternoon so off we go the mile up the canal to turn around outside Tesco's. A bit of food to keep us going for the next few days. Then back the mile to the marina where the boat is now backed in for washing and polishing on the other side. This leaves just 4 more miles to do. We need to go a mile north to New Mills where we will get a pump out and fill the tank with Diesel then turn around and go back past the marina to Tesco's where we turn again to come back to the marina and back in which is the way we leave it over winter.

Saturday 17 september.

Wash the other side of the boat before we walk into New Mills to buy a bit of hardware. Diana stays to check out the charity shops while I return to the boat and set about polishing the second side. It takes all afternoon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Into the top pound.

Sunday 11 september, 1 1/2 miles, 12 locks.

As we are getting ready to set off 2 boats come past so we know that there will be a delay going up. I am keen to move off to reserve our place in the que, and just as well because as we moved around the corner to the bottom of the locks another boat follows. The prospect of a slow climb up the locks is confirmed when taking to the boat ahead he tells me that they have been following the first boat and they have trouble getting their boat through bridges. there are few boats coming down so we need to empty all the locks before we can enter. We are fortunate to have a keen man in the second boat. He goes ahead to help the first boat and eventually figures out what their problem is and makes some helpful suggestions. He also opens the paddles on the lock he is leaving so it is almost empty by the time we get there. After about 3 locks Marion turns up to help which is much appreciated. Two and a half hours after we start we clear the last lock and pull over for a cuppa with Alan & Marion on the towpath. We say our final goodbyes and move on a short distance before mooring up for the day.

Monday 12 September, 4 1/2 miles.

Loverly day as we trundle through the countryside. Diana has an anxious moment as she is required to stop traffic to open a swing bridge. It is all electronic so no effort involved. Further on we reach another swing bridge which is normally open but it is not. Diana can't swing it so I nosed the boat forward and climb off the front. It takes a while to notice the locking system is broken, luckily it is in the unlocked position. It is unbalanced and very heavy to move. It looks like with the broken lock and being unbalanced it has been hit by a boat. Once we are through and closed the bridge again I ring the Canal trust to tell them what has happened. "Yes we know about that and waiting for parts". Further discussion is had about signage and a notice about the situation. As we are about to move off a hire boat comes steaming around the corner, I put my hand indicating he needs to stop but he thinks we are moored up until he sees there is a closed bridge in front of him with nowhere to go. I accept a few knocks and bruises are inevitable but being hit because of inattention is not that pleasant. When we get to Macclesfield there is room on the pontoon and as Diana is keen to see an antique dealer she has been told about in town we moor up for lunch. Diana heads off and I stay with the boat. About 1700 she has done what she needs to do and so have I. I then walk to town to pick up our pre booked tickets to Glasgow from the station, meet Diana and have a coffee and visit the chippy on the way back to the boat. We are staying the night.

Tuesday 13 September. 7 miles.

Away in the morning for a bit more trundling along on a warm sunny day. They are talking about a heatwave. Around lunch time we pull over at Bollington, eat lunch then walk into the lower part of the town for a change. Back on the boat for a few more miles before mooring up past Higher Poynton looking across at Lyme Park Keep. Beautiful evening on the towpath with drinks and nibbles. This lasted until the dark clouds move over with thunder and lightning followed by torrential rain which lasted for over an hour before the front passed. We expect a sunny hot day tomorrow with only 9 miles to go.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Excitment

Saturday 10 september. 4 miles

Picked up at 1030 and into Congleton market to buy some Oatcakes & black pudding. We have now discovered that Real Oatcakes (not supermarket ones) have a far superior taste and are eating them almost every lunchtime. Today is Heritage day and there are some places to visit for free. First stop is the Church where I take the opportunity to be a Campanologist. I Climb up a spiral staircase to the bell ringers level where I get an insight into the workings of the bells. At my request they give a demonstration of a 3 bells peel. When they have finished the question is "does anyone want to try". Too right I do so after a bit more instruction and under dual control I get to ring one of 8 bells in their tower. We look through the church, visit an 18th century bath house in a private garden, check out some old buildings we had not seen before, then return to the boat for Black pudding Oatcakes. When it was time to sail off we had an additional 3 crew members join us. Marion looks after her 5 & 7 year old great grand daughters after school and often takes them for a walk along the towpath where they are always asking to go on stranger's boats. They didn't know what was planned so too very excited little girls and their Great Grandma travel about 2 1/2 miles to the last bridge where they can get off. Alan has driven there to pick them up. As we approached the first bridge the girls notice their Grand Ma and Pa on the bridge. They have come on their bikes and follow along the towpath.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Congleton

Wednesday 7 September.

Not a good day. Diana woke with a bad case of vertigo and nausea. After lunch it was a question of what and how much did she want to do. We walked to Tunstall to stock up on food and found a Lidl which helped improve Diana's day as she hadn't found one this year. We didn't buy much as their selection of chocolate was not as good as we remembered. By the time we got back to the boat it was too late for the tunnel so settled in for the afternoon with Diana sitting in the sunshine on a towpath chair. That evening we were surprised by a visit from our Congleton friends who knew we were at Westport lake but had not been there before so plugged in the GPS and found us 22 minutes later. Great to see them unexpectedly. Bedtime and when Diana puts her head on the pillow the world spins again. She spends most of the night trying to sleep in a chair.

Thursday 8 September. 8 miles, 1 lock.

Diana feeling better but far from 100%. Doesn't want to bend down to aggravate the problem. We eventually get away and arrive at the tunnel with boats emerging so not much delay before we pass through. Once in to the sunshine again we turn onto the Macclesfield Canal, climb the 1 foot of our only lock today and then stop for water. A short distance further on it is a lunch stop. As we approach Congleton we stop and talk to our friends son who is working on his boat and then to his and our surprise Marion turns up on her push bike a bit short of breath. Apparently bike riding is not a common event. Shortly after we are moored up At Congleton Wharf. We are invited to go out for dinner and join the family celebrate, grandson, Harry's 17th birthday. We have now meet 4 more members of the family. A lovely gathering and very good meal as well. Back to the boat for an early night. Diana managed to get her head down OK.

Friday 9 September.

A quiet morning with the chance to do some work on the boat. After lunch we are off, by car to the supermarket. On the way we call in to watch Alan in a Crown Bowls tournament. Always a fascinating game to watch with the uneven surface. By the time the bowls finish and we had done the shopping it was Fish and Chips back at their's. Must say I was pleased that the F&C shop had a new product. Mushy Pea Fritter. I first experienced one of these in 2010 on the Ashby canal and have been looking for one ever since. Back to the boat at a reasonable hour tonight.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Potteries

Tuesday 6 September. 7 miles, 6 locks.

Continuing north. First lock almost immediately after setting off and quite deep as well. Through Trentham with well kept properties on one side and overhanging trees on the other followed by open country until the bypass around Stoke joins us. This doesn't last for too long and we are then into the final 5 locks before we leave the Trent & Mersey. The plan is, up 2 to clear the rough bit then stop for lunch. What happened was, with the boat traffic coming the other way we kept going to take advantage of empty locks. Once at the top and with Middleport Pottery less than 2 miles away we press on and tie up outside, giving Diana a couple of hours at her "must visit pottery". 10 minutes further on we are moored up at the familiar spot of Westport Lake where we spend time on the towpath with .. you can guess the rest.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Continuing North

Tuesday 30 August.

Out and about on another Pilkington tour. Today they have found a National Trust Property near Ticknall. There is a limited choice today as normally Trust properties are closed on Mondays but as yesterday was a Bank holiday and they were open they choose to close on Tuesday. Calke Abbey is presented in a different way. The owner had traveled the world collecting artifacts, looked like he had a fetish for birds and animals. The taxidermist's of the area would have had a lifetime of work as everywhere you turned there were cabinets of stuffed Birds, Animals and trophy heads.  He turned into a bit of a recluse and the house has been left as it was when he left. It was in need of much renovation but the trust decided to make it watertight and stop any further deterioration. The house is presented as an example of what needs to be done to some of the properties they acquire. Once we had been through the house we spent some time in the large grounds which included a small church, a large walled garden, orangery and selection of sheds with much old hand machinery in them. On the way home we needed a Pub for a meal and ended up in Willington at the Green Man. Had had the best Sunday Roast there last year and although the place had changed hands the meals were pretty good. Back in Rugeley we had coffee on Molly Rose before Anne & Jim made the return trip to Preston, a couple of hours away.

Wednesday 31 August. 5 miles, 2 locks.

A day of boating through the countryside remembering last year on this section, to arrive at Great Hayward for a couple of nights to catch up. Generator out for 3 loads of washing.  Walk to the Farm shop and cafe. After tea we walked through the grounds of Shugborough Hall taking some interesting "fading light photos". Generally a quiet evening.

Thursday 1 September.

A no rush day. After lunch we went back to Shugborough to walk through the gardens that were closed last night. Still walking a few miles most days.

Friday 2 September. 5 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

Walked to the Farm shop for some bread and veggies. Filled up with water before continuing north at a gentle, no pressure pace. The locks are spaced well apart and once through the first one where we are second in the que the boats get spaced out as well. Had lunch on the move so with time to spare thought we would walk into Burston, which looked interesting in the book. As we approached we realised we had stopped here with Ray and Rosemary so decided not to. Well that was until we passed some other boaters who were walking back. They convinced us that it was worthwhile to walk a little further to where there was a nice pub. Yes the pub looked nice but that was all there was so back to the boat. It was such a nice afternoon and we are only an hour or so from Stone so we stay put.

Saturday 3 September. 3 miles, 2 locks.

Checked the forecast as soon as we got up. Heavy rain due to start at 1100. A quick breakfast and off we go anticipating to be in Stone by 1100. I recon we have time so pull into the Aston Marina for a pump out and then up to the first lock. I empty it and in we go. By the time we get to the top there are two boats waiting behind. I'm pleased we are in front as I guess they are all heading for Stone to beat the weather and moorings are going to be in high demand. On the approaches to Stone we pull over where we were this time last year with Rachel & Trevor. Diana goes to look ahead. She finds one spot and it is one of the best in town. We first found this one on our way south when Ray & Rosemary were with us. We take the chance that someone coming the other way won't get there first as there is a lock to do on the way. All good as we moor up just after 1100. Good plan, worked well. Pity the forecast wasn't accurate. The rain started just as we set off. Must say though, after 1100 it got a lot heavier. By mid afternoon the rain has eased so walk into Stone to the hardware shop and Costa's. As we get to the main street it is full of gazebos. Yes it is the monthly Farmers market and it has just finished. So into Costa's where we catch up on blogs etc. Home via the chippy and a quiet night onboard.

Sunday 4 Septemeber

It is Fathers day in NZ so a good reason to partake of a Sunday Roast. I wander off into town on the off chance the motor accessories shop is open. It is not. Diana turns up soon after as there are a number of Charity shops in town and she will have a look before lunch Only a couple open. Back to the canal for lunch at the Star. Meat was very nice but the veg were over cooked. Never mind a nice Fathers day lunch. Pottered around on the boat with a bit of painting to finish. Walked down the towpath a bit to get rid of the rubbish before settling in for the night.

Monday 5 September. 4 miles, 7 locks.

Busy morning on the canals. Early off the boat to see if I could buy a bit for the boat. Unsucsesful. Then we both went to do a supermarket shop before Diana checked out the rest of the Charity shops. The canals are still busy so we time our departure and join the que at the first lock. Not to much delay as there are boats coming down. Manage to fill the water tank at the second lock without loosing our place. Did one more before stopping for lunch at the bottom of the Meaford flight of 4. Trundled on with a short stop at Barlaston to visit the Big Boys Toy shop, unfortunately they ar now out of business. We have the option going on to Stoke and 6 more locks or stop at a familiar spot adjacent to Wedgwood factory. to enjoy drinks a knibbles on the towpath.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Bank Holiday Weekend

Thursday 25 August. 6 1/2 miles, 11 locks.

We meander through the countryside passing the Hartsill boat yard where there are old canal buildings, one of which has a lovely clock on top. Diana wants to take it home to put on our sheds out the back. It would really suit the property. We have been past here twice before but going the otherway you don't see it coming as it is just after a bridge. This time there is time to slow down and get the cameras out. As we approach the Atherstone flight I check the weather as we have always struck rain here before, no exception today as we enter the 3rd lock the drizzle starts. Nothing like the first time through when a thunderstorm struck going up. It was so bad we put the boat in a lock and waited inside for it to pass. After the 5th lock we moored up and walked into Atherstone  for a look around and a bite to eat. It is a town I enjoyed the first visit so was keen to walk around again. It has one of the best looking railway stations I have seen. It would have been even better in the days of steam when there was not all the electrification gantry & lines around. Late afternoon we continued down the last 6 locks of the flight, which are in 3 pairs mooring up just before the next downpour. 

Friday 26 August. 3 1/2 miles.

Just a short run to Alvecote where a number of historic boats are heading for a rally this Bank Holiday Weekend. Arrive and have some lunch before we walk to the pub where the boats are. But first we catch a taxi to a chiropractor in Fazeley. Diana has had a sore back for a few days now and it isn't getting any better. She was lucky to get an appointment at short notice. After the treatment it is a taxi back to the pub. There are about 20 - 30 boats in the marina with a row of working boats all backed in so it is easy to have a look at the boatman's cabins at the back. There is not a lot going on as everyone involved are doing there own thing. Diana's back needs a rest so a quick meal (average quality) to support the event then back to the boat.

Saturday 27 August. 6 miles, 2 locks.

The Historic Narrow Boat Gathering officially starts today so we are off down there again. First up we talk to a Canal & River trust volunteer who is showing off one of the trusts work boats. This is used for education so is decked out as it would have been during it's working life. We are taken into the boatman's cabin and shown how every nook and cranny was used by a family of up to 6 living in a space only slightly bigger than 6' by 6'. Next we walk down the line of boats. These people are fanatics and every cabin was decorated to the nine's. Many photo opportunities here. It was good to be there but it was a bit like kite flyers getting together. They wanted to be and play with their friends and not concentrate on the public. We went back to the boat for lunch and then set off at 1415. At 1400 the old boats started one of their competitions. They come down the canal and  turn in a wining hole then go about a mile and turn again. They are scored on their ability to turn. So as we come around the corner three boats have turned and 20 plus are heading towards us. We pop in behind number 3 and at snails pace weave our way past the oncoming boats in front of the public. Molly got a mention over the PA system as we went past. The next mile was probably the slowest done so far. Clear of the parade we continue through Tamworth, mooring up for a while as a thunderstorm goes through. Stop for milk & bread, fill with water then down the last two locks this year. They are all up from here on. Through Fazeley Junction and stop short of Hopwas for the night.

Sunday 28 August. 8 miles.

A mix of quiet countryside and noisy highway on a busy canal. It seemed like every boat coming the other way wanted to meet us in a bridge hole. Some didn't see us coming till the last minute so reverse gear was getting a bit of use. Arrived at Fradley Junction, where the Coventry meets the Trent & Mersey canal, in time to meet up with Roger and Pat who moor their boat about 10 miles and 14 locks down the Trent & Mersey. They came by car. The four of us partook of a Sunday roast in the "Swan", the pub at the junction. They then took us the two miles to The National Memorial Arboretum at Airewas. We made our first visit on the 27th August last year. A very moving place to visit. Back to Fradley junction for a cuppa before we returned to our boats.

Monday 29 August. 7 miles, 3 locks.

Up to the, reportedly busiest junction on the network, around the corner and straight into the first and open lock. There are volunteers to help so Diana doesn't have to put any strain on her back. Second lock much the same. Who said it was busy? About a mile further on at the next lock there is are no volunteers but we are second in the que to go up and there are 3 waiting to come down. Nothing unusual in that But, one of the paddles is broken so the lock takes an age to fill and the gate arms are short making them very heavy. No way Diana will move them without help. Lucky there are many boaters hanging around. 45 Minutes later we settle in at a stately pace until we stop for lunch on a beautiful day before continuing on to Rugeley and a stop at Tesco's. It is a day to enjoy so here we stay tonight.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Northern Oxford.

Monday 22 August. 9 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

Set off from Braunston at a reasonable hour and turned right up the Oxford Canal. A nice warm day to just cruise along at under 3 mph with the noise of the M45 to interrupt the peace of the country for a short time. Stopped short of the Hillmorton locks for lunch before walking down to the Canal settlement for a look. When we went through here in 2010 everything was closed up. Now every thing except the cafe is closed. Back to the boat to set off down the locks. Well it's Monday and there are hire boats every where and one of the paired locks is broken. As we are behind about 5 boats going down we get to enjoy the entertainment of enthusiastic amateurs. One kid fell off the top of the boat onto the front deck and I saw a 4-5 year old with a bleeding nose while a 6 year old sister was happily swinging a windlass. Eventually we are through and heading for Tescos at Rugby before a planned mooring outside Rugby for the night. As we approach Rugby we spy a kiwi flag and then recognise the name Waiouru on the boat. Quick reverse and try to fit into a 58ft gap behind. As it doesn't fit we hang off the back and chat for a good half hour before continuing to Tescos. It is now later than planned so stay the night there.

Tuesday 23 August. 8 miles,  1 tunnel, 1 swing bridge.

I pop back into Tescos to pick up another loaf of bread but it appears I got the last one last night. We leave Rugby and once through the Newbold tunnel it is countryside again. We find a spot with some shade and a wide towpath for lunch. Out with the generator and two loads of washing get done. With the hot weather it should dry quickly. We move on and after passing the M6 decide to get a bit away from the motorway noise before stopping for the night. We don't mind trains as they go past quick and reasonably quietly. We have nibbles and drinks on the towpath on a lovely warm summers night. We have changed our minds about quiet trains. They are passing every 5-6 minutes and a number of them are freight trains which don't go past quick as they are so much longer. Note to self, Make sure there is some form of vegetation between trains and boat.

Wednesday 24 August. 13 miles, 1 lock.

Under the M69, then alongside the M6 we reach Hawkesbury Junction where we pass through the 1 foot stop lock before doing a 180 deg turn onto the Coventry canal. Fill with water and head off north around Bedworth and past the Entrance to the Ashby canal. Went there in 2010 and would have liked to do it again but it takes 2 days to get to the nicest bit, so we go straight through. Next is Nuneaton where we meander through with a stop for diesel. Once out the other side into the country we moor up for the night. The rain starts about 2 hours later.

Friends

Saturday 20 August.

Bit of a sleep in this morning. Pat & Roger came to visit. We meet them on the way into Liverpool in 2014. They have a daughter in Wellington so come down under every southern summer. We introduced them to Art Deco last year and they will return for the third time next year. Their boat is moored about an hour away so they drove over. After much talking on Molly Rose we walked back up the canal to a canal side pub for a late and enjoyable lunch. After we walked them back to their car we took a familiar stroll through Braunston before returning to the boat for tea and sleep.

Sunday 21 August.

Today we are picked up by Dave who drives us the 35 minutes back to the new house they moved into 3 weeks ago. We meet Dave and Angie on the way out from Liverpool and doubled up with them going up the Wigan flight. Later on we joined them down the flight and had a few days cruising with them to Manchester. Most impressed with the design of this modern house and although mostly white interior the colours used in the furnishings blended it all together. Had a great feeling about it. They took us to a pub on the outskirts of Leicester for a Roast, it was Sunday after all. Roger and Pat joined us for the roast. We all adjourned back to the house for coffee and had a good old chinwag before returning to the boat where we finished the day with a light snack before bed.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Done with Doubles

Friday 19 August. 9 miles,15 locks, 1 2000yd tunnel.

We wake to a rainy day so motivation to move is not high. Mid morning it is looking better so off we trot. A couple of miles along we are following a familiar boat so it is looking good for pairing up on the locks ahead. There is a bit of light drizzle but not unpleasant to be standing on the back steering. It is quite noisy with trains close by to the left and the M1 to the right. A little further on the noise reduces as there are roadworks on the M1and I smile to myself as of the three forms of transport we are the second fastest. We join the other boat in the first lock. We have not traveled with them before but first talked to them on the Thames before we did the tidal bit. Since then we have criss crossed with them several times. So up we go and at lock 2 the drizzle turns to persistent rain and continues all the way up. At the last lock they didn't arrive so we went up by ourselves and stopped for lunch. Now we are inside eating the rain stops. About an hour later they come past, they had stopped at a wee shop beside the canal. We follow them as we turn left towards Braunston. This completes our new canals for this year. By now the rain has stopped and, surprisingly, there was no dripping water in the tunnel. Out the other side and down the last 6 locks, This went quickly as there were a number of boats coming up so the locks were full. As we approach Braunston around 5pm we are not optimistic about finding a good mooring but luck was with us. I spy a small gap, that I'm not sure we will fit into, but as there are people on an adjacent boat I am prepared to ask them to move forward to give me room. They must have read my thoughts as he appears and says that we will fit as a 60 footer has just moved on. From when we left the River Thames, 12 days ago, we have done 100 double locks and now we are back onto narrow canals. Quite looking forward to only 51 locks left and 3 1/2 weeks to do it in. Although we have been pushing it along we have enjoyed the canal and there is nowhere really that we feel we missed out on.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Merlin's

Thursday 18 august. 10 miles, 7 locks 1 3000yd tunnel.

It was a foggy day to start with an eerie feeling, the trees poking through the fog and great reflections on the canal. We were almost ready to leave when a boat goes past going our way so I ask them if they would wait 5 minutes for us. They agree. We had been through a lock with them earlier. The couple and their two younger teenagers had spent a month in NZ a couple of years ago. With their help we raced up 5 locks where we were to moor up so we could walk up the last two locks to the village. No chance of a mooring up there. On the way up the locks I discussed what we were doing and they chose to do the same except they would stay the night. When we got up to the village we did the tourist side of the canal then stopped for a coffee, after which we crossed to the other side where there were just as many photo opportunities. The other boat is owned by her parents who live on it fulltime. When it is holiday time the couple and their two kids drive to where the boat is and her parents drive the car back to where it had come from. After two weeks holiday the parents drive to wherever the boat is and they swap over again. Seems like a great arrangement to me. We saw the family a couple of times in the village. So why so much about them? They were a delightful family with well balanced and mannered kids. The people that give you faith in the future of our world. I do hope they get to NZ again and meet up with them. About 1300 we set off up the last 2 locks with help from the public as this is a place where many come to see canal boats. As we approach the Blisworth tunnel I am reprimanded by the Smithy at the entrance for going too fast. Into the hole we go. It is double so the concentration is not as intense as a narrow tunnel. I have time to look around. What do you see? Brick linings, water dripping and in some cases pouring in. This has been happening for years and many interesting stalactites have developed. Not long after leaving the tunnel we pass the junction to Northampton, 17 locks down and 17 back up does not make it an attractive option to visit. We continue slowly through mainly open country with few buildings to see until mooring up for the night at Weedon next to the west coast main line with trains passing every few minutes.

The reference to Merlin's. Yesterday as I was walking down the locks I heard an aircraft with an obvious powerful engine and thought to myself, nothing special. As the Spitfire went past I looked up to see him complete a couple of barrel rolls. Today as we passed the Northampton Junction I was concentrating on taking a photo. When I put the camera down I look up to see a Lancaster disappearing in the distance.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

1 Step up

Wednesday 17 August. 10 miles, 1 lock.

Looking to put in a big day. Away before 0900 traveling around the edge of Milton Keynes. Mostly amongst trees and parkland with a few clumps of houses. Many moored up boats to trickle past until we get to Wolverton where we spend 1 1/2 hours supermarket shopping. I decide not to stop for lunch to make up some time. 2 miles later we are into the first of the locks up to Bilsworth tunnel. For 5 miles there are no towns on the canal but the view and atmosphere make for a nice days boating. We reach the bottom of a flight of 7 locks but because of the heat moor up for a while. At the top of the locks is Stoke Bruerne, a well known canal centre where CRT have a museum. I walk up the locks to check it out while Diana puts her feet up. Too much walking to villages recently and her hip is playing up. I don't know what the Temperature is today but working locks with no shade doesn't seem like a good idea. I spend some time in the museum and make  plan for tommorow. I wont tell you the plan I will blog what happend later.

Bottom of the hill.

Tuesday 16 August. 8 1/2 miles, 1 lock.

About an hour into the morning travel we go down Fenny Stratford lock. The drop is a masive 1ft 1inch and takes us to the bottom of the hill with 11 miles before we start up the other side. The Canal Guide suggests we vist Willen and Great Linford so stop for lunch at the bridge giving us access to Willen then off to find the Church of interest. 20 minues later we arrive to find the church locked and the main point of interest is inside. Wander around for a while ad then see a note with a phone number to ring for access. Shortly after we are in. The ceiling is very tall for the relitvel small church and inerior is painted pink, picked out in white and gold. Quite different. Back to the boat with less than a mile to moor up for Great Linford. We take what looks like the quickest route and end up at the top end of the interesting part with thatched, brick and stone buildings. Then down past the pub to the old Manor House and associated church and buildings. We walk back to the boat along the tow path and this isn't the quikest route. Back on the boat and move to moor up opposite where we have just been. Not a long day travelling but a lot of walking so we are left with a few miles to catch up tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Charity shop fix

Monday 15 August. 5 miles, 5 locks.

Walked into Leighton Buzzard for a look around. It is a Market Town with a good selection of shops in the main street. There are a few chain stores but they are generally in adjacent streets so don't detract from the Market Town Feel. Diana had a fix of Charity shops, before lunch & internet at Costa. Bought a small amount of food before going back to the boat and headed off around 2. We went past a large hire boat company before the first lock and were imediately followed by hire boats. Very pleased we didn't leave any latter as we were 2nd in the que already. We meandered through the country side for 3 miles before reaching a flight of 3 locks. Volunteers were on hand to help and organise who should do what. Interesting results some times with pairs of boats going up and down which requires a crossover in small pounds between the locks. Carried on to do one more lock and as we approached I could see it was going to be difficult to moor up with a boat on the lock mooring. When we got there the couple of the boat were pocking around in the hedge so assumed they were picking blackberries. No the were trying to catch a baby Moorhen. It was covered in green paint. There was paint stuck to tree roots and the side of the canal. Looks like a pot of paint had been dropped while painting a boat,  We have past a number of boats moored up with crew out with paint brushes today. Back to the moorhen, The one in the hedge was eventually caught with a net when it came out into the open. When we left they were trying to entice another one with bread and the net at the ready. They were planing on taking them to a vet to get cleaned up. Soon after we moored up. Interestingly the bloke on the Green boat behind us was removing masking tape from his boat. I finished the day preforming an oil change.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Sunday Roast

Sunday 14 August. 5 1/2 miles, 9 locks.

Away a bit later this morning but still at a good time. A couple of old boats had gone down the lock so I went to fill it up before we got underway, and what did I find? A windlass. Even the long time boaters can have a memory lapse. As we are following the old boats we have to fill each lock before we go down so progress is not fast. At the second lock we are pleased to see a boat catching up but alas they are travelling with another so we are still left to go down by ourselves. The locks are spaced out a bit more now so there is a sence of a rest between each one. We are in open country and in many places there are no hedge rows so we can enjoy the panaramic views. Around lunch time we see an advert for a nearby pub so phone to make a booking. Not interested in walking the 880yrds to find out they are booked up. It was a 16th century Thatched, village pub with a carvery. In the past most places with a carvery are big and very commercial, this retained its village character and provided a good range of meats and veg with a complimentary ice cream to finish.  Diana had a Stem Ginger sticky pudding. No room for tea tonight! Took a few photos around the village of Slapton before walking back to the boat and continuing on through 2 more locks before mooring up just short of Leighton Buzzard. In the distance we hear a brass band playing and contemplate walking into town but, enough is enough, we have been on our feet all day.

An Up & Down Day

Saturday 13 August. 7 miles, 16 locks.

Away at a reasonable hour and slowly worked our way through the first 4 locks by ourselves. Although we were still in Berkhamsted it felt like a country canal. At lock 5 Diana gives a gasp "Where's my windlass?" Yep it is at the last lock. There was a Heron there and the camera was in full flight and the usual sequence of events when we leave a lock was broken. Most of the climb so far the locks are reasonably close, this one was a good 3/4 mile behind us. Off she went at a good pace hoping that no one would have taken her most precious windlass in the collection. This gave me the chance to prove to myself that I could, if need be, take the boat through a lock solo. Well I can. Takes time and one doesn't want to rush and get something wrong. Once I was through it was about the time I expected Diana back so moored up and wandered back down the canal and found her at the first corner with a happy face. 2 locks later we are at the top of the hill. 420ft above the river. We trundeled along for about 3 miles and stopped for lunch before it is time to change the mindset and start down the otherside. There is a flight of 6 locks and while trying to get enough water into a leaky lock to open the gate another boat appears. They were a great help as their boat lives nearby and they are very familiar with the locks and they have a crew of 3.  We were going so well until a boat comming up got caught by the wind and turned him right around so that he had to go into the lock backwards. This all takes time. Last lock has an ice ream shop so we managed to lick away at one of those. The other boat left us at the bottom of the flight and we continued managing to join another boat through the next 2 before they stopped for the night around a couple of corners to a swing bridge which was opened by a nearby fisherman and we stop before the next lock. Generator out and 3 woads of washing done before diner and an early night.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Climbing the Chiltern Hill

Friday 12 August. 3 1/2 miles, 11 locks, 1 Swing bridge.

Another beautiful day. After 3 locks we arrive at the boat yard to find the oil filters sitting waiting. Next was the vehicle swing bridge, Diana's favourite, Yeh right. The next 5 locks were close together but more than walking distance apart. By now it was hot and a lunch stop was required. We are on the eastern end of Berkhamsted and Diana had been told, by a passing boater at one of the locks, that it was worth a stop. We are not sure where town centre is so we head off down a couple of locks where the canal is graced with two canal pubs and a boat yard. Best place to moor but of course every one is taken so it is through the next lock and then not much further on we find a spot. Walk off the tow path past a supermarket straight on to High St. The intention is a quick look and then a few more locks in the cool of the evening. After a stop at Costas for a coffee, internet and charge the devices it is onto the photo taking. As we head back to the boat we have a change of plans. Fish & chips for tea with the promise of an early start and a long day tomorrow. We Will See!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Wayward boats and photos.

Thursday 11 August. 4 1/2 miles, 9 locks.

The boat in front moves off and we decide to let them go until I spy activity on the lock behind. Looks like a solo boater and we prefer not to go through with some of them as it means more, rather than less for the Lock Girl. A quick crank of the engine and we are away. By the time we get to the first lock the other boat is in and going up. Diana helps them and they will wait for us at the next lock. They are an older couple (our age) and their grandson. We go through the next 7 locks with them. At one of the locks there is a bit of a wait as divers are doing a survey of the lock walls. It did mean that there were others to help us through. Most of the time the other boat would leave the lock first. The one time when I went out first there is a widebeam boat drifting loose. It looked like we would get around behind but it drifted quicker than I could get there. Diana grabbed a rope from the back and we tried to pull it back then with a bit of maneuvering we pushed and pulled it to the bank. It had been attached to a couple of old sticks one had come out and the other broken off. We left it tied to another old stick and a fence post. Probably adrift again by now. After the 8th lock we stopped for lunch and the others went on. I tried to find out if the oil filters I had ordered had arrived but with no luck. I wasn't keen to go too far in case we had to pass the boat yard before we could moor. I will pick up the filters tomorrow. Where we were was not the best place to moor so we go through one more lock and find our companions had moored up for the night so we are now just in front of them. The disaster of the day was: 
Diana tried something different in downloading her photos.but hit the DEL button instead of the Import button. So no photos of Divers, wayward boats or a number of pretty lock cottages. Good news is that it wasn't a 680 photo day.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Moving North

Wednesday 10 August. 6 miles, 12 locks.

Left our smelly mooring and went up the first two locks before we pass aTesco supermarket with moorings provide, would be sill not to stop. At the next lock  we are joined by another boat. First time we have shared a lock so far. At this lock there is a Canal Centre so we plan on stopping and loosing our companion. As it turns out there are no moorings so we see them again at the next lock. After that we let them go when we stop for lunch. With lunch over we  are preparing to move when a boat goes passed so we race off behind them and go through the next 8 locks with them. We had seen them several times before on the Oxford, Thames & Grand union. After the last lock they have a spot ahead where they plan to spend the night and we take the first available mooring which is behind the first boat we shared a lock with. Finised the day with a walk around the old part of Hunton Bridge.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A mucky day

Tuesday 9 August. 7 miles, 6 locks.

No rush to move. I spent some time on the phone trying to locate an oil filter as the next oil change is not far away. After talking to abou 5 boat yards the best I can do is hope someone will ring me in the morning to have the filter ordered and delivered to a boatyard 2-3 days away. Next thing is a pump out. I ring the yard across the canal  and he tells me to come on over. Well before we leave I ring him to check where to go but he can't see me. Not surprising really as he is in their other yard about 5 miles away. We set off late morning and are assisted through the first lock by volunteers. Next we pass the boat yard that is sorting out the oil filter so I call in as I have now found some alternative brands and they may have them. No they don't but fortunately the person who was going to ring me tomorrow had turned up and I was able to sort it all out. With luck the filters will be waiting for me on Friday. We carry on to the next boatyard for a pump out. Takes some time to manoeuvre into the entrance of the marina, turn around and moor up. "Sorry we can't do a pump out, our tank is full", to which I reply, "that makes two of us". Did another lock and stopped for lunch. I give the next marina a call to confirm they can do a pump out and what time they close. This is the next objective for the day. Another tricky entrance, not helped by someone tied up to the pontoon giving little room to manoeuvre. At least now we have an empty tank. Moved on a bit further and passed through a lock beside Cooper Mill. This place had a nice feel about it with modern houses and the old mill was now flats. Decide enough for the day and moored up just out of town. After a while it seemed like something was wrong with the pump out as we were getting an unpleasant odour. Guess what, behind the trees is the sewerage plant. Can't be botherd moving so shut the windows.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Around LHR

Monday 8 August. 15 miles, 13 locks.

An early start today as the Teddington lock keeper only lets you onto the Tidal Thames 20min before high tide. This has you running with the outgoing tide for the majority of the trip. High tide today is 0650. The drop from Non-tidal to Tidal is only a couple of feet. Two boats set off and as the others had done it before we followed. Very pleasant conditions with the sun low in the sky. We pass some rather nice houses but not as elaborate as those around Henley.There is also a variety of boats from lovely old timers in pristine condition through to the rust heaps people choose to live in and the odd sunken boat. As we pass Richmond we pass under the raised sluice gates which are open for 2 hours each side of high tide. The rest of the time they are lowered to keep a constant depth of water upstream and then boats have to use a normal lock to get through. Below this point there are no further locks. After travelling for  an hour 15 it is time to turn up the Brent river, There are about 4 channels in the same area and even the boat we were following had difficulty in identifying the correct one. It was quite obvious once you were in there. Through a lock and back onto the canal system. Took on water then headed north with 12 DIY, double locks to start the climb back to the Midlands. Very heavy gates and winding gear so Diana had a good workout and with me having to assist on some. When we got to the Hanwell flight there was a notice to say if you wanted help then ring the volunteers. Did this and they were helping someone else at the time but would get to us soon. We set off up and occasionally saw a volunteer but they were busy with other problems of water management so in the end we went right through basically unassisted. We had intended to stop for lunch half way up but with all the water shortage issues and three boats behind us we kept going. Stopped for lunch about 1400. We got away later heading up the Grand Union Canal until reaching the Slough Junction where we stopped for the night. Went to a local pub for tea. I think I identified all the characters from "Last of the Summer Wine" in there. The day started Southwest of Heathrow then crossed both approaches before we ended up to the North. It was morning rush time as we went down the Thames with a continuous line of large aircraft on the approach.

Interesting point: When we left the Thames were were just 4 miles upstream from the Hammersmith bridge where I had walked along the river when visiting Richard back in 2003 also we were about 3 miles direct to where he and Mel lived. Guess I can say I have been to London in my boat and that there is very little of the Thames I havent seen when you also consider I had done the tourist boat trip to the Thames Flood Barrier back in 1990.