Monday, 6 July 2015

A two pub day.

Sunday, 5 July. 9 miles, 5 locks.

Moved off under a bridge and tied up to pump out the black tank. It's a DIY which the previous DIYer didn't know what to do. I opened the door took one look at the floor and closed the door again. The tank is getting pretty full so we are now being cautious until the next pump out is available.
A mile along the way we are into the 5 Tyrley locks. Once through these we pull over for lunch happy that there are only 2 more in the next 25 miles. Well it is Sunday and the sign says only a 10 minute walk to "The 4 Alls". It was worth the effort with a very reasonable carvery, when on the plate looked like a Sunday Roast. Back on the boat we travelled through some deep, dark cuttings covered in trees, over long embankments giving great view of the country for miles around. Could just about see where we have been in the last couple of months (excluding Scotland). Pulled over when a heavy shower was threatening. It passed and we we off again. Well, about knock off time I see a note in my travel book about the Pub, rated 2nd best on the Canals. We stopped here in 2010 so thought it deserved another look. Hadn't changed a bit since then, in fact I don't think it has changed in a century or 2. Spent a delightful hour or so listening and trying to understand the local conversation. The Anchor is an old boaters pub. The landlady is 80, her late husband was one of the last boatmen. Another character had been plying the cut up until the end. He now has a traditional working boat moored across the canal from the pub. Then a couple who used to live in the area turned up for the first time in 30 years and the stories started. What a privilege to be part of reminiscing the boating stories of the past.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Catch up

Friday 26 June, 7 miles, 5 locks,

First away from Queens Head and meander up to the Frankton locks. Stop for water on the way and are there waiting for the lock keeper to unlock so we can proceed. After we are up and back on the Llangollen we stop for lunch. I ring the Coal boat. This boat operates on the canal every other week providing coal, diesel, grease, oil and a number of other items for boaters. I guess they are just in front of us so we delay lunch and push on. I do some more calculations and think they may be behind us so reduce to our normal 2mph. Not long after I see them coming around a corner behind us so pull over, wave them down and take on 100 litres plus of diesel. That done they move on and we have lunch. Soon after we pass them again refueling another boat. Then it is into Ellesmere for a shop at Tesco's. Had a good mooring so stay the night.

Saturday 27 June, 7 miles.

Another meandering day passed the mere's and through tree lined and open farming countryside to moor up at the junction with the Prees Branch. The branch is 1 mile long and with 2 lift bridges we decide to walk it. After the first mile the canal is unnavigable so we continue on the towpath until the canal ends before returning the same way. This part of the canal is quite different with weed and tree encroachment.

Sunday 28 June, 8 miles, 8 locks, 5 lift bridges.

Wet morning so waited for a clearance around lunchtime. A pleasant run through the countryside arriving at the Grindley Brook locks around 1700. They include a staircase of 3 locks so are manned by lock keepers. They were still there so we went on down and continued through 2 more locks which brought us alongside a pub. Time to stop after a long day.

Monday 29 June, 9 miles, 7 locks, 3 lift bridges.

This was a lucky day. Every lock was set for us and every bridge was up. We were also lucky not to sink the boat. Here's what happened.
We arrive at Baddiley #3 lock, gates have been opened by a boat coming up so we sailed straight in. Both lock girls are struggling to lift the paddles even with two hands. I go forward to help and as I am about to start I notice the front of the boat is hung up on the lock. I ask the two girls to drop the paddles as quick as possible to stop the rear of the boat getting any lower. Now the problem is that these paddles have been modified so you can't throw the ratchet device off, you have to hold it up to turn the windlass. Remembering it takes two hands to move the paddle up 1 notch at a time it becomes very difficult to move it down again with one hand when the other is holding this modified devise. Meantime while the girls are struggling at the front of the boat I have gone to the back and have opened the paddles to let water in. It was our lucky day as there was more water coming in than going out and the back of the boat rose up again onto an even keel. Our luck continued with the remaining 2 locks of the day set for us.

Tuesday 30 June, 1 1/4 miles, 4 locks.

What a coincident that last night me moored by the bridge that leads to Snugbury Farm. Our 20 minute walk was rewarded with lovely Honey & Ginger ice cream. Around the corner we fill up with water then down the Hurleston flight and turn south on the Shropshire Union Canal. Stop for lunch. Heatwave day, fall asleep and that's it for today.

Wednesday 1 July, 2 miles.

Move on to Nantwich where there are a number of op/charity shops that Diana missed last visit. We have been having internet problems again so decide to take a bus to Crewe. We found the shop we hoped would be there and they sorted the problem and gave us some extra advice on who to better achieve what we are trying to do. By the time we got back to Nantwich the op shops were closed so a few grocery items were picked up before the walk back to the boat. Originally we had planned to move on today but that all changed when as we approached our boat a head pops up "Like you hat" I try to wear an NZ hat whenever off the boat. "Nice tee shirt I reply". She is wearing a "Tui" shirt. We drop the shopping on the boat and join them. They are a professional couple that have a house on the Thames and often come to Art Deco weekend in Napier. They have a daughter living on Waiheke Island (off Auckland). They also enjoy wine, make their own fruit wine which I can vouch for. A very pleasant evening. We are starting to establish a group of Narrow boaters who may get-together in Napier at Art Deco weekend. Impressive thunderstorm before bed.

Thursday 2 July, 4 miles, 2 locks.

Nice morning so Diana does the op shops while I do an oil change. As Diana starts her walk back to the boat there is another thunderstorm so a coffee is in order. Early afternoon the weather is looking OK so off we go. We do a couple of locks then a bit of drizzle starts. Thats OK as I would like to get to the bottom of the Audlem flight to be ready to go up the 15 tomorrow. Soon after the heavens open, thats OK for a short time then with moorings available we moor up. The weather cleared after an hour or so but we are here now so we will stay.

Friday 3 July, 4 1/2 miles, 15 locks.

Into Audlem, up the first 2 locks and there is a mooring just before the water point so lets stop and check Audlem out again. 5 years since our last visit. Still a lovely village with a few additional shops. Last time we were here there was bunting all over the streets. They have gone and almost every building has a large Union Jack flying. Quite different and better. Lunch at the tea shop. fill with water and off up the remaining 13 locks, stopping shortly after for the day. Nice enough to have tea on the tow path. Early evening a calf fell in the canal opposite the mooring. It was getting quite distressed so I went in search of a local but by the time they came the calf had managed to find a low bank and climb out.

Saturday 4 July, 3 1/2 miles, 5 locks.

The flight of 5 Adderley locks weren't so bad after the 15 yesterday. Diana had some interesting conversation with others lockside. One boat had just been bought by OAP's, had there daughter and grandchild on board. The Kid was having and had been having a tantrum all morning. Things were a bit stressed. She was warned by one boater about the boats behind. They were moored up with them the previous night. 19 girls on 2 hire boats. Only one had been boating before. One fell overboard last night. This was a good warning as we got to the top lock they were going to close it on me but a good honk on the horn brought them into line. When I enter the lock there are about 14 girls/woman hanging around with windlass's in hand. I'm watching like a hawk to see who's going to do what next. All's well we got through then stopped for lunch before trundling into Market Drayton for the night. A walk into town reminded us of why we only spent one night here last time. Tonight we have had an outdoor music concert not far away which ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Llangollen Motorway

Monday 22 June, 3 mile, 1 Aqueduct, 1 Tunnel.

Traffic quite heavy this morning. Opened the back door to see our neighbours had left and we hadn't heard a thing. While mucking about before heading off it was fun to watch boats going aground on the first corner. We walked into Trevor as I wanted to have a look at the Aqueduct from below. As we passed the troublesome corner I took a good look at where the problem was. In Trevor we went to the information centre then I walked under the aqueduct then down the river Dee a short way. It is an impressive structure but there was no where that you could see it all at the same time. Back to the boat for lunch and then on our way. Remembering what I had learn't this morning I was very conscious of having a clear run at the corner. OK nothing coming, all ropes released and the flow has us moving. A boat then appears coming up stream and then stops (grounded) I have no where to go and then find myself grounded. This all happens in time for a second boat to appear coming upstream. After heaps of pushing and shoving we all continue our journeys. Before leaving I had put the Gopro on my head so I could get some pictures over the side of the Aqueduct. I am looking forward to seeing how the "being grounded" will come out. Moored up outside the Chirk Marina again as it is the last place you can get sun before Chirk Tunnel. Just after we moor up another hire boat joins us. Kiwis from Tauranga.
Checked out the Gopro movies. (Note to self: push record button).

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from the River Dee

Railway Viaduct over the River Dee further down stream

Tuesday 23 June. 2 miles, 1 Aqueduct, 1 Tunnel.

Moved off reasonably early to leave the boat just before Chirk tunnel for the day while we visit Chirk Castle. The Castle is National trust and the previous owner still lives there some time. We sat down for a coffee before our tour starts and at the next table the owner is being interviewed by a National Trust person. Only got snippets of the conversation but made us feel a bit connected to the Castle. A great tour and then back through the Castle at our own pace and taking photos. Finishing with a walk through the gardens and numerous topiaried Yew trees. Walked back to the boat for the next drama of the day. Must remember that we are on the heaviest trafficked hire boat canal. So we are preparing to leave and go through the tunnel and across the Chirk Aqueduct. Gopro on head and recording. A hire boat passes and there is a drunken conversation about the light in the tunnel, three people tell the helmsman not to go in but he insists that the light is only a torch. He enters and two others follow. 1/3 the way in they meet the torch, attached to a narrow boat coming the other way. He is adamant that he is right and altercation occurs. To defuse the problem the boat that was nearly through the tunnel backs out. The third one in from our end wants nothing to do with what's going on so backs out to our end of the tunnel. So after a 40 minute delay and the boat that was originally in the tunnel makes it through with one behind. we set off in an accumulated flotilla of 5 boats. Later on that evening we pass the offending boat with the crew on the towpath having a great old time. We had intended doing a couple of locks but a pub we had stopped at in 2003 is too inviting to pass.
Checked the Gopro. Interesting conversations recorded but footage over the Chirk Aqueduct not that good.

Chirk Castle
Wednesday 24 June. 9 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Away at a good time as we are booked to go down the Frankton flight onto the Montgomery canal today. They are only open 1200 to 1400 each day. Arrive at the top lock just after 1200 and are the second boat down. The first 2 locks are a staircase and lock keepers are there to help. These are followed closely by 2 others. We have heard that the Montgomery should not be missed by some and others who say it is a ho hum sort of canal. At the moment there is a breach part way down so we can only go 4 miles. It is very Rural with high reeds on both side in places. Not that interesting. Get as far as we can turn and moor up. As we have been told there are lots of places to watch the wildlife further down I go on a recky to see if Diana's foot can make the trip and if it is worth it. 3 miles there and 3 miles back with not much wildlife to be seen. Not worth putting extra strain on the foot.

Thursday 25 June.

Yesterday we meet the secretary of the Furness Vale Boat Club we are members of. They had been to Shrewsbury for the day so we took their advice and caught the bus. An interesting place to visit with Black and White buildings, Stone churches, Market halls an Castle and a many other variations. There was a circular church, quite different. Shrewsbury is a bit disjointed. the old buildings are interspersed with modern stuff so doesn't have the same impact as the places that have all the old buildings together. Well worth the visit though. Back to the boat with the intention of moving back towards the Frankton locks. Such a nice sunny night decided to wait till tomorrow. Meet a bloke from Hastings who was on a hire boat.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Saturday 20 June.

Didn't get off the boat until after lunch. I spent some time at the station watching the comings and goings of vintage railcars (DMU's) and one tank engine. Diana went into town and did her shopping thing. On the way back to the boat we walked the towpath to the end of the canal. The only boats allowed past this point are the horse drawn tour boat and canoes. It was a trek of close to 2 miles to the weir that diverts the river Dee into the canal and forms the Horseshoe falls. Near this spot is the Chain bridge which ends up at the front door of the Chain Bridge Inn. A beautiful spot for an ale. The view across the Dee included a few trains going past. The walk back seemed shorter.

Sunday 21 June. 4 miles.

I set off in the morning up the tow path for nearly a mile to visit a motor car museum. They had some Austin's so was hopeful of getting a bonnet badge for the A7. On arrival I find a note to the effect that they were opening a couple of hours late today. Back o the boat and into town to visit "Plas Newydd". The home of the "ladies of Llangollen". So much of the building was covered, inside and out, with carved Oak making the interior very dark. Diana had read a book about the two ladies so she was pleased to follow their story. The gardens were graced with a number of Topiaried Yew trees. Our time on the moorings expired at 1700. That was unfortunate because just before 5 a couple from Lower Hutt passed for a chat. They were sailors and we knew a few of the names they mentioned. Out of the basin into a traffic jamb of tour boats, day boats, horse drawn boats and narrowboats that must have known that moorings became available at 1700, trying to get in. Once past the traffic a relatively fast trip, going down hill now, to stop just before Trevor as the day was starting to get a bit cooler. As we moor up the couple that were next to us in the basin pull in behind. Happy hour finished about 2300.

Friday, 19 June 2015

To the top of the LLangollen

Tuesday 16 June,

We had visitors from Gisborne/Bomere Heath join us for morning coffee. Pete and Pole live in the UK and spend the northern winter in NZ. After a good catch up they took us to Cole Mere to meet friends of theirs who live in a thatched cottage in beautiful gardens. A delight to be shown around by locals. Had lunch overlooking The Mere before being taken back to the boat.

Wednesday 17 June, 11 miles, 2 locks, 1 tunnel, 1 Aqueduct.

We set off early (early for us) and backtracked a couple of hundred yards to a marina to empty the black tank. Retraced our track and filled up with water in preparation for a couple of days down the Montgomery canal. There is a problem on the canal and you can only go 4 of the 7 miles but am told it is still worth it. Talked to CRT when making the booking and they say it could be some time before the problem is fixed. Received advise by email that night to say they were monitoring the situation and hoped to have a resolution by Monday. Talked to a boater at the water point who tells me it is very exposed. There is a good breeze today and it could be unpleasant. Any way we head off to the locks at the top of the Montgomery and have a chat with the lock keeper. The real story is that the problem is not large and easily fixed. The holdup is that a bird's nest has been found that is stopping getting the machinery in to do the job. Until there is an environmentally friendly solution the canal will be limited to 4 miles. In view of the strong wind we elected to cancel our booking and headed towards Llangollen. Local advice is go in on Friday and leave on Sunday to keep away from the congestion of hire boats. After crossing the Chirk Aqueduct and going through the tunnel we moor up for the night. On the way we pass a Kiwi couple who noticed the Kiwi roundel on the front of the boat and asks if I was in the airforce. By now we are out of conversation range so hope to meet up some where as his face is bugging me. We also passed another couple who live about three blocks away in Napier
Thursday 18 June. 1 mile.

With the Chirk station close and a direct train to Ludlow we put on the tourist hat and head off. I had been there in 1990 but Diana hadn't. First a walk through town with camera clicking on our way to the castle. I didn't really remember much of it so both of us had a good look around. Back to town where there was a market. Lunch in a nice restaurant before heading of to St Laurence church. Another magnificent building with fine stone and wood carvings. Diana had her eyes on all the possible photos, so much so that she didn't see the last step in a flight of 3. Down she goes and lying on the floor her first statement is "don't touch me I have to see if my camera is broken". Takes a photo which is OK so now we can see to her. I find her a seat and one for her foot while a couple of ladies come to assist. One has a compression bandage and puts that on her foot. While she is resting I climb to the top of the church tower for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside. We leave with plenty of time for the invalid to hobble back to the station. Arrive back on the boat with plenty of daylight to spare. As the boat is in a deep cutting we move the mile to get into sunlight.

Friday 19 June. 6 1/2 miles, 1 tunnel, 1 World Heritage Aqueduct.

Diana's ankle is surprisingly good but sore. there are a couple of lift bridges to pass. One was chained up, the other was up for other boats so she didn't have to get off the boat. She chose to get off half way over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to record that we had taken our boat over it. Still a magnificent structure 13 years after first crossing it. Arrived in Llangollen for a late lunch. Since last here a mooring basin has been built for 33 boats so there was plenty of room. A quick walk into town for a look around and to check out the vintage railway trains and station.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Canaling Kiwis

Tuesday 9 June, 5 miles, 3 locks. 2 lift bridges.

Wandered through a paddock of cows to the church at Wrenbury. Talked to a local in the churchyard who advised us there were also two bulls in the paddock. Another selection of old houses to photograph. Looked in the village store which was well stocked even if the selection was small. Took the alternative way back and called into a very good chandler at Wrenbury Mill. Set off after lunch and a couple of miles down the track we pulled over and walked to the village of Marbury. The church is situated overlooking a small lake, nice setting. Talked to the writer of walking guides who was researching walks in the area. A good variety of buildings in this village. Took a public track back to the canal through farmers paddocks. I do like this English custom/right. Further along the canal as we were coming up the lock at Willeymore I nipped in to the pub and checked at the menu. Moored up just passed the lock and enjoyed dinner at the pub.

Wednesday 10 June. 2 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Domestic morning with washing of clothes, and a tidy up inside and out Molly Rose. After the first isolated lock we came to Gridley Brook. Three locks in quick succession then a wait at the 3 lock staircase. The locks are manned to assist with keeping things flowing. At a staircase one has to think well ahead to avoid boats meeting in the middle. Before we could start up we needed to wait for three coming down. While waiting and talking to those on the boat behind we find the owner of the boat is a Kiwi who has lived in the UK for 45 years or so and his sister from Kerikeri was with him. We caught up again in the evening when we moored up in front of them. Took a half hour walk into Whitchurch to buy a few bits and pieces and looked at some old buildings before heading back to the boat.

Thursday 11 June. 3 op shops.

Spent the morning washing the top of the boat and painting the boarding plank I repaired a few days ago. Into town in the afternoon with cameras in hand to check out the church, Heritage center & a bit of hardware shopping. The Heritage center had displays on the history of cheese making in Whitchurch and the story of Joyce, tower clocks. Fascinating how they kept the old traditional making well in to the 20th century. They have made some of the biggest clocks, in towers in the world. On the way into town we meet 4 Kiwis who were returning to their hire boat. I think we left them with a few thoughts about ownership. Maybe we will hear from them again. Had a coffee in a nice pub courtyard before the walk home.

Friday 12 June. 3 1/2 miles, 3 lift bridges, 1 op shop (saw something yesterday that was needed)

Friday is market day. Some fruit and veg, cheeses, fish and meat along with the crafty and junky stuff. I found a very tempting model shop which would have relieved me of many pounds if I could have carried the Drone, Model railway engine & large scale model aircraft home. Lunch in town and back to the boat to leave about 1600. Any of you that know the system here will appreciate that is not the best time to move from near a hire boat base on a Friday. Stuck with it for an hour and half with a bit of drizzle starting. First precipitation in over a week. Decide to moor up after the next bridge but before we got there a head pops out from a moored boat asking where we came from as they came from Tauranga. We pulled in behind them and had an extended happy hour.


Monday 8 June, 5 miles, 5 locks.

Had a bit of a tidy up and reorganisation inside the Cratch (sharp end of boat) this morning. Walked the 20 minutes for an icecream. Sat in the sun in Snugburys courtyard and watched the Swallows and Red Robins busy in their work. Made us so hungry we had another ice cream, called it lunch, before returning to the boat and setting off. Tied up at Wrenbury as the sky darkened. Inside with a rum in hand before the rain arrived.

Completed the Llangollen

Saturday 13 June. 5 miles, 1 lift bridge.

Morning started cold and drab so no hurry to move but move we must as we are out of internet coverage and in this modern age a day on the boat without contact with the outside world is hard to take. Just before lunch with a brightening sky we moved less than a mile around the corner and went for a walk around Whixall Moss. It is where peat has been cut until recently and now is protected so it can revert to it's pre-harvesting days. The area has a lot of military history. During the Boer War it was a training ground. In WW1 four rifle ranges were constructed. The army also harvested peat for horse bedding and moss for sterile wound dressings. During WW2, with 3 flying training schools and 2 fighter and bomber operational training airfields nearby the area was used for fighter pilot gunnery training and a bombing range. An unusual wartime feature was that a flare path was lit as a decoy and it was one of the Starfish locations. How it worked. When the Germans dropped incendiaries to mark a target it was put out asap and fires were lit here to make it look like the target for the bombing force. While we were there we had a battle of our own. You have heard about the West Coast sandflies, well we have experienced the biggest and hungriest mosquitos I have seen. As usual I was in shorts. A bad decision that I am still regretting. There was another walk I wanted to do a mile or so further on but having walk 4 miles on boggy tracks decided to do it on the way back. Late in the day the drizzle started but we continued until the clouds got dark and heavy rain was threatening, so pulled over for the night.

Sunday 14 June. 3 miles. 1 tunnel.

Cruised into Ellesmere basin having been told there should be plenty of room. At the end of the arm we turned and moored up in the only available slot, next to Tesco's. It will be easy to stock up with some extra heavy items before we leave. We have now done all of the Llangollen canal. Our first narrow boating experience was with Richard and Mel back in 2003 when we hired a boat from Trevor and got as far as Ellesmere before returning to Trevor. Had an easy afternoon with a wonder around later. Meet another couple of Kiwi boaters who are overseas for the first time and have been on the Union canal in Scotland, are now on the Llangollen and then off to spend a week on the Regent canal around London.

Monday 15 June.

Main purpose of the day was maintenance. With the town a couple of hundred yards away I can get the bits and pieces I need. Di managed to find a couple of op shops. We took a walk to the Mere, had coffee, walked back via the White Hart for an ale.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

In to Wales

Friday 5 June, 4 miles, 5 op shops.

As we went south down the Shroppie we passed the junction with the LLangollen canal an took a glance at the first 4 locks which will require attention in a few days. Trickled past heaps of moored boats at Nantwich before finding a 60ft gap to moore up for a couple of nights. Walked the mile into the town centre. We had been here 5 years ago and it took surprisingly little time to remember the buildings and where we had walked. Last time we were here it was a Sunday and Bank holiday weekend so most of the shops had been closed. This time Diana was into the op shops while I scouted around to find them all. She got to 5 before closing and there are another 5 to go. Back to the boat for an early night before tomorrow's adventure.

Saturday 6 June, 250 miles (by car)

0800. Jim & Anne are knocking on the door bearing gifts. They have driven down from Preston where they live on the banks of the Lancaster canal. We meet them last year and they invited us into their home. Today they have offered a mystery tour of North Wales. Off we go heading for Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust property in Tal-y-Cafn. On the way we see a sign for "Antique's. A side trip is in order. This proved to be very advantages later in the day. In the gift shop I saw a postcard of the Falls at Betws-y-Coed that my Granny had painted in 1906 and hangs in our hall at home.
The gardens were up there with the best of them. With a stream running through a tree lined gorge which included some massive specimens, it was a great place to wander around. After lunch the discussion was what else to see. We had been to a couple of the places suggested by Jim back in 2003 so when he mentioned Narrow gauge steam trains the choice was easy. What I didn't realise was how far away they were. West we go towards Ireland then follow the Menai Strait south ending up at Porthmadog. A quaint Welsh seaside village. It had a different feel about it from an English seaside village. I liked it. Down the end of the street we see steam so trot on down to the station where fascinating narrow gauge locomotives and carriages are preparing for an excursion. Unfortunately the round trip is 2 hours so the bucket list has an additional item added to it. Now we head for Betws-y-Coed. as I had earlier mentioned Granny's painting. The route took us up through an area where slate is quarried. Bleak and barren except, in the middle of this is a substantial town, Blaenau Ffestiniog". The railway goes through here as it's origins was the transport of slate and it's narrow gauge is because of the mountainous terrain it travels through. As we approach Betsy-y-Coed I spied a sign to Fairy Glen. This jogs a memory so I quickly look at the postcard bought in the morning and yes it is Fairy Glen where the painting is of, not the Falls at Betsy-y-Coed. Back we go, park, and tramp off over a farm through the bush and clamber down the rocks to this magical spot. Many photos taken so I can compare the differences 109 years later. I also took photos of a large rock with names carved into it. Haven't found "GET" yet. Now we are heading for home. Over the moor's through some lovely farmland with a stop for dinner at The Plough. Arrive back at the boat 2230. Jim & Anne stopped for a coffee before heading back to Preston. Their day ended at 0030. Thanks for a great day away from the wales.
 Tank engine
 Narrow Gauge
 Tunnel of flowers
Fairy Glen
Sunday 7 June, 4 miles, 4 locks.

Later start than yesterday. Headed south  1/2 a mile to a wining hole so we could turn around to go north again. Didn't go far before stopping in the country for lunch and to do the washing. Turned left onto the LLangollen canal climbed the 4 locks, topped up with water and after 2 bridges moored up for the night. Good choice, because when I went for a walk later I found the sign saying that the famous Snugburys ice cream farm is but a 10 minute walk away. it will be a late start again tomorrow as we gob out for morning tea.
2200 Sun going down

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Two blue days

Wednesday 3 June. 0 miles,

Woke to a sunny day. Spent the morning repairing the boarding plank which broke last year. After lunch the day was so nice we sat on the towpath, The couple from the next boat wandered over and we chatted for an hour or more. It was such a great setting we decided there was no need to move. In the evening we took a walk down the tow path for a mile or so.

Thursday 4 June. 7 1/2 miles, 2 locks.

Woke to a second sunny day. Got underway straight after breakfast as we needed some hot water and power in the pc's. 4 miles later, moored up for showers etc, had some lunch. Diana caught up on emails & facebook while I did some exterior cleaning. Mid afternoon we moved a couple of hundred yards and  moored on the other side of the canal so we could visit a marina. I'm doing a bit of research as we may shift marinas next year so we are closer to the southern canals. Also visited a chandler and that always costs money. Carried on down (or should I say up as we were climbing in the locks) towards Barbridge Junction. The 2nd of the locks was where a hire boat had sunk on Sunday. Diana had a good chat to one of the locals and apparently CRT knew about the fault with the lock but had not done anything about it. Should make for some interesting insurance claims. Two ladies were on their 2nd day out when the front got caught on the gate and filled the boat with water. They were not perturbed as they asked for a replacement boat to continue the holiday. Turned left at Barbridge junction stopped around the corner and off to the Barbridge pub for dinner. I highly recommend the Steak and Ale pie.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

After the storm

Tuesday 2 June, 3 miles, 1 lock.

Had a good night's sleep to wake up on a dead flat canal. Not sure where the storm went. Maybe when you live in the roaring 40ies wind doesn't have the same significance to you. There was talk of more wind so after another late start went to the supermarket to stock up. Our travels a quiet rural for a while. Visited the local chandler to get some LED bulbs. In the afternoon the sun was out, I dried out the bilges, Di went into town. When she got back we decided to move on a bit. Once we left the cutting we were in we noticed the wind was still there but we continued for 3 miles to find a place in the country to stop, put the generator out and do the washing. Weather forecast is for mid to high teens with no rain for a week except Friday. Maybe there is a summer.
View from the lounge tonight

Monday, 1 June 2015

Batten down the hatches

Monday 1 June, 220yds, 2 locks, 2 op shops.

Nice sunny start to the first day of summer. There is a strong wind and storm warning out for later in the day through till Wednesday morning. We decided to shift from our mooring on the Trent and Mersey, around the corner to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. This involved down Kings lock, a tight 90' blind left turn then straight into the Wardle lock to climb back up 9'9". This is the first lock going up this year. Had to think hard about what the difference was. I had forgotten that when the water comes in the front it rushes under the boat hits the gate then picks you up and hurls you at the front gate. I'll try to remember that as we climb through 24 more on our way to Llangollen. Rain started at lunch time with the wind picking up late afternoon. We are moored in a reasonably protected place. Interestingly we are moored with two other boats that are here to sit out the storm. One couple have a daughter in Matamata and the others are regular visitors to New Zealand. Not holding my breath but from Thursday the prediction is for a hot June.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

When in Rome eat what the Romas eat!

Saturday 30 May, 1 mile, 7 locks, 6 op shops

One of the nicer days so far. Setting off mid morning we passed many boats. Mid term break here so lots of hire boats out. The good thing about passing boats where there are many locks is that they have just come up and the lock is full for us to go down. Makes for quick transit. Arrived at Wheelock for lunch on board. Walked the 1 1/2 miles into Sandbach. We have been here before and it has a quaint square with a variety of buildings. Has a nice feel. I spent a bit of time sitting in the square while Diana did the op shops. She only missed one. Went supermarket shopping at "Waitrose". Waitrose is significant, it is the only place we have found Vogels bread. We have tried the local breads but they are a bit airy and bland so sorry, if I can buy a good Kiwi bread I will and will always look for a Waitrose when we stop.

Sunday 31 May, 5 1/2 miles, 4 locks.

The pitter patter on the roof kept us in bed till after 8. Breakfast followed by a leisurely morning. Weather improved so after lunch, fill with water and head off Northwest. All but one of the locks were set and the canal depth seemed better than usual so we pushed the revs up a bit. Molly performed well. There has been a bit of wind today making the entrance into some of the locks a bit interesting and noisey. Found a good mooring outside a well known F&C shop just before the junction with the Middlewich branch canal which we turn off onto tomorrow. F&C closed Sunday.

Friday, 29 May 2015

How Fast

Friday 29 May. 2 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Same old, same old today. We woke to the music of rain on the roof so there was no rush to put feet on the floor. With the new batteries there was no question if we should run the heaters. What a cosy place our little waterborne home is when it is warm. Rain eased about lunch time and it was quite a pleasant day. Off we go straight into a rising breeze which made a significant chill factor. As the day went on it started to get unpleasant so as soon as we could find a sheltered spot that was it. Lovely, peaceful & rural. Just after tea the local farmer decided to spray the paddock across the canal with effluent. although the wind had dropped and it was a beautiful sunset we chose to stay inside with windows closed.

Part of our journey today took us under the M6. We were doing 2mph they were doing about 5mph That's progress!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Aviation fix

Thursday 28 May, 2 1/4 miles, 6 locks.

We woke to sunshine which came and went throughout the day. Decided we would only travel in sunshine. Great idea, didn't work. We were moored up above a lock so thought we would wait until a boat came up and set the lock for us. This happened, sun was shining so in we went. Just as I started down the cloud came over and a cold precipitation started. I was surprised to find hail on the boat. Three locks later we pulled over, sun came out and we enjoyed a hot drink.

We managed the next 6 locks without rain but when the sun went behind clouds it was a cold wind. At lunch time Diana put a casserole in the oven which made the afternoon smell with expectations. I'm writing this before I have tried it.

One of the Red Arrows is missing.
On Saturday while touring with Alan & Marian the Red Arrows flew low overhead on their way North. My guess to the launching of HMS Elizabeth or to the parade of the 3 Queens up the Mersey to celebrate Cunard's 175th anniversary. They passed in front of us on their way south later in the day.
Today while moored up after the first 3 locks the Red Arrows headed North again, to return later. I'm sure I counted 9 this morning and only 8 this afternoon.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Friday 22 May. 7 miles, 12 locks.

Nice morning. First chance to wash the right side of the boat and give her a rub with baby oil. Filled up with water at the top of the locks and headed down just after noon with a bit of drizzle about. Late lunch at the bottom before heading into Congleton. Text messages back and forth as Marian was finding/reserving a mooring for us. Settled in before we joined Alan and Marian for fish & chips from their favorite chippy.

Saturday 23 May. many miles by car.

Alan & Marian collected us from the boat and we were off on another grand tour. The first stop was Cheadle in Staffordshire where we were taken to Pugin's Gem. A magnificent interior designed by Augustus Pugin who was also responsible for Westminster, Houses of Parliament. A short walk around Cheadle before we drove to Ashbourne where we had lunch. Another quaint market town with bunting across the street making it look very festive. Next town was Leek. We had intended to go here in 2010 but the tunnel on the Leek Branch of the Cauldon Canal was closed so we didn't get that far. Once again a walk around the town observing the Butter Market and the many and varied period buildings. Now time to head for home. On the way we called into the Yew Tree Inn. Hard to describe but it was as one expects an old english pub to look. In addition it was full of collected artifacts (junk). So Many grandfather clocks, guns, Victoriana, Pianola, Gramophones, penny farthing, swords, stuffed animals etc, etc. Had a pint and pork pie. Both very nice. Back to the boat for tea. Later on we walked to Alan & Marian's for the evening.

Sunday 24 May. more car miles.

We were picked up about 1130 and driven to Tatton Park, a National Trust property, near Knutsford about 4 miles off the end of the runway at Manchester Airport. The beautiful gardens included, Kitchen, Italian, Topiary, Conservatory, Fernery and others we didn't get to as it was a cold day. After a bite to eat we went into the big house to experience some more of the English Gentry lifestyle. Grand rooms with ornate ceilings and walls crammed full of paintings by Masters and other artists. Also many large portraits of family and royalty. On the way home we stopped in Knutsford for a look around. Another of those towns with a variety of architecture. The town is the centre of "The footballers Triangle" where more Champain per head of population is drunk than in any other place in the world. This status is obvious in the number of high class eating houses and the quality of cars parked in the street. The day was finished with a vist to "The Young Pretender", Local hostelry where award winning Cheshire pies were the main feature on the menu. Ham and black pudding pie with mash and peas was my tea. Diana's pie was cheese and onion with a salad. It is our intention to visit there again on the way home in September.

Monday 25 May.

Bank Holiday so we had a day off too. Sleep in, Cold day. Mid afternoon I joined Alan to watch a game of Crown Bowls at his local club. Joined Marian and Alan for afternoon tea and enjoyed Rhubarb crumble and custard. This had been made for afters on Friday but we overdosed on F & C. Back to the boat for tea and an early night.

Tuesday 26 May. 5 op shops

For a few days now we have been running out of power overnight. This happened a bit last year but this year with it being cold and having the diesel heater on a lot it was becoming a concern. I had a smart meter installed before we left Furness Vale and this has been giving me a better understanding of what was happening in the batteries. After lots of note taking and talking to Nick from TW Marine this morning we decided to replace 4 old batteries with 3 new ones.
That having been sorted we walked into Congleton and bought a few things for the boat. Had lunch and did a supermarket shop so we can be self contained for a few days. In the evening we returned to Alan & Marion's as they had offered the use of their washing machine. That made life just that much easier.

Wednesday 27 May. 7 miles, 4 locks.

Nick arrived and installed the new batteries. We were on our way just before lunch. A nice slow meander through the countryside in warmish weather with the sun poking through occassionaly. Took on water, drinking type, at the first lock then continued until we turned west on the Trent & Mersey Canal. After 3 locks light rain started so decided to pull over for a cuppa. Still here 4 hours later but it is starting to brighten. Hope tomorrow brings us sunshine.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

2 different days

Wednesday 20 May, 0 miles. 1 op shop.

What a bleak day it was. As Diana was walking down the boat the sun came out but she didn't get to see it as she was between windows at the time. Diana went back to the op shop but I didn't get off until late afternoon when the day improved a bit. I put the first of the silver ferns on the side at the front. It looks great. The other goes on when we moor up on the other side.

It is a Kiwi boat

Thursday 21 May, 7 1/2 miles, 2 swing bridges. 1 op shop.

When we woke the sun is starting to break through the clouds. By late morning it is feeling a bit like spring. We motor off the 3 miles to Macclesfield where we stop for lunch and walk into town. Just a few things to buy. Back on the boat late afternoon and we continue south through delightful country side. We remember why we do this and concentrate on these type of days. End the day sitting on the back, in the sunshine, with wine, cheese and crackers watching the ducklings , listening to the cows and lambs, occasional being reminded of the other world as we hear a train rush past doing 100 mph. Looking forward to Fish and Chips with Marian & Alan in Congleton tomorrow but first there are 12 locks, first this year.

Enjoy the evening Diana there are 12 locks around the corner.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

On the Mac

Sunday 17 May. 0 miles

Gary & List from Wellington and Zena from Napier called in this morning for a good old catch up. Zena left before lunch so that left 4 of us to go to the pub for a Sunday Roast. I have been looking forward to getting back into that habit. I am still waiting. On Saturday we had seen a pub in Marple advertising Sunday Roast. When we got there we are informed that they don't start serving them till next week. A bit of false advertising as the sign looked like it had been outside for a month or more. Never mind we had a pub lunch and enjoyed the catch up with List and Gary before they headed of to Warwick. Another evening with the heater on.

Monday 18 May. 3 miles, 0 locks, 5 op shops.

Cold and bleak in the morning so we aren't going anywhere. By lunch time the rain had turned to lite drizzle so off to do my hardware shopping and Diana the op shops. I later returned to town to meet Diana and do some supermarket shopping as we know the rest of the supermarkets on the Macclesfield are well below canal level. Late afternoon the day is still cold but has improved so, up stakes and head off. There was one heavy shower on the way so I spent a few minutes in the dry looking at the underside of a hump back bridge. Now moored up overlooking an equine centre where there is a bit of activity and the sun is shining.

Tuesday 19 May, 4 1/2 miles, 0 locks, 1 op shop.

Cold and bleak again. Sun pocked through before lunch so we traveled for 10 min to get some water, gas and a pump out. After lunch we trundled down to Bollington. Walked into part of the village for a coffee. By the time Diana had finished in the op shop all the cafes were closed so back to the Molly Rose coffee shop. Here for the night.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

In the slow groove

Saturday 16 May. 2 1/2 miles, 1 swing & 2 lift bridges.

Well we have certainly settled into canal time. Made it all the way to Marple for a late lunch. Diana's luck is holding. The 1st swing bridge needed her attention. 1 lift bridge is broken so was left up then at the next there was a helpful boater that had lifted the bridge for another boat and was still there when we passed, 3 boats later. No rain today but still cold. I'm really not used to wearing long trousers this much. Took a wander around Marple and remembered some of the shops I need to visit on Monday to buy some bits to tidy up the boat.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Off at a slower pace

Sunday 10 May,

Wet in Glasgow, so a slow start with Murray cooking a nice Brunch then to the Glasgow Museum of transport and Technology.
Good selection of cars but you couldn't see half of them as they were stacked 5 high up about a 20 meter high wall. They had the best selection of ship models I have ever seen. Understandable in the middle of a major ship building area.

Monday 11 May,

Spent the morning at the "Art lovers house". A 1902 design of Charles Rennie Mackintosh which was not built until 1989. Interesting and well worth a visit.
Cousins of Diana & Murray, Donald & Morag came for lunch and we had a pleasant afternoon in conversation. We had first Meet them in Napier in 2002.

Tuesday 12 May,

Off to lunch with Morag & Donald's daughter who lives in a 1700's farm house 45min from Glasgow. More chat and pleasant company.

Wednesday 13 May. Mystery Train Trip.

We were on our way before 10 travelling east. Ending up in North Berwick, the southern entrance to the Firth of Forth. They have a seabird centre there with live cameras on near-by islands where the Puffins and Gannets breed along with many other seabirds. Lunch was at the "Herring Bone". Best seafood chowder ever. If you are going that way call in. On the way home we stopped in Edinburgh as Diana had not been there before and Murray went to university there. Walked up to the Castle and then had dinner at Murray's regular restaurant from the past. As we were in Scotland I had Haggis. From Edinburgh back to Glasgow the train followed along the Union canal. Diana is hoping to organise a boat swap up here.

Thursday 14 May.

Fast trip back to Furness Vale to find Nick & Jim have done all the necessary maintenance and Molly is ready to go

Friday 15 May. 2 miles, 1 swing bridge.

Sun shining, Summer is on its way. Spent the morning getting ready to move. Removing the back cover, putting all the cruising ropes back on. tying on the fenders filling up the water tank etc. For some reason the canal level was down a bit and the boat was on the bottom at the back so we couldn't motor out. It didn't take to much effort to pull her out into the canal a bit and then slowly engage the engine. As we approached the swing bridge and Diana was making sure she had all the necessary gadgets, I see a boat coming the other way and the bridge was open We hope, an omen for the next 4 months. Moored up opposite some canal side houses. Walked into Disley, back to the boat for tea and it has started to drizzle. Well this is the English Summer.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

On the water

Saturday 9 May. ? milies

We headed off with Murray by car and then caught a ferry (first time on the water under power this season) to the Isle of Brute. We visited the stately home at Mount Stuart 
A magnificent home with grounds to match. Stayed fine all day. We are starting to get our walking fitness back after a few miles around the gardens.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Abandon ship

Thursday, 7  May. Heaps of miles, 0 locks, many tunnels.

We haven't quite abandond Molly Rose but we have moved off her for a few days. It has been a bit damp and we have decided this year that there is no pressure cruising when it is wet and cold. Murray, Diana's brother, who joins us for a week or so on the boat when we are here, has been keen to show us his new apartment in Glasgow. After a few days of considering the possibility we hopped on a train and arrived in Scotland last night. Quite different to pass through places we cruised last year. There is more to see of the UK than the few miles each side of the canal but at 200 kmph it is but a glancing look.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Back to walking .

Tuesday May 5. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Up at a reasonable hour to return the rental car to Hazel Grove. Bus in Stockport to see how we can improve our mobile wifi. Another mission. After an hour trying to establish an account with the phone company so we can go on a plan. It all fell over when we couldn't give them a post code. Tried the marina one. No go. Tried Murray 's in Glasgow. No go. In the mean time we have a pay as you go at more than twice the price. Not to bad at the moment as the marina has wifi.
The other issue we are trying to sort out is that Diana has lost all her contacts in her laptop and ipad making it very difficult for her to send out her daily photos. Best advice so far is to take a train into Manchester where there is a Mac shop. Another option is to go to the Trafford Centre where there is another Mac shop next to a canal. If we rush we can be there in a week.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Kite Flying

Monday 4 May.Bank holiday.  0 miles 0 locks.
Maybe summer has arrived? And then again it might be only for a day.
We heard there was a fly your kite day at a large National Trust property not far away so off we went. The entrance to Lyme Park is on the A6,   reportedly the busiest road in the UK. As we arrive at the gate to make a left turn there are signs up saying "park closed" with a number of people in fluro jackets trying to keep some order. We stopped to see what the story was. Of course there is no where to pull over so as we talked to the fluor jacket brigade about how we could get in traffic stopped. The car parks are full and also the paddocks. So where can we park? A shrug of the shoulders was the reply. With a bit of tooting from behind we moved on and took a side street where we managed to park and walk the 1/2 mile back.
The kite flying was on a ridge alongside a keep. Great setting and a nice bit of wind. About now I wish we had bought one or two from home. There were some small para foils for sale so we now have 2 kites on the boat.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Canals are filling.

Sunday 3 May. 0 miles, 0 locks
Looks like we may have arrived a bit early. Max temp yesterday was 7 °. Thank goodness we are connected to power with a small 2kw fan heater on almost continuously. The positive side is that the canals are filling up with water, especially the Peak Forest canal where we are. They had a major leak last month and Molly Rose had been sitting on the bottom for a while. All good now. Slept on last night. Great to be back and trying to remember where everything is. Visitors from Napier came aboard for lunch. Traveling from Harrogate to Stratford. That is now 5 from home that can relate to what we are doing.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Awake but not switched on

29-30 April. heaps of miles, no locks.

We are here and Molly Rose is looking in good shape. Quite dry inside but a bit cold so have had the heater on to help bring her back to life. Nick has been busy sorting out the list of maintenance I left him with, including a new Boat Safety Certificate. Like a WOF and good for 4 years. Wonder if we will need to renew it in 2019.
From Macau to Furness Vale. The day started with breakfast then a walk around Macau back to the hotel around 1300 for a feet up, pack up and check out at 1800. Ferry ride to Hong Kong Airport with a departure time of 0100. Been up 17 hrs. The 13 hour flight is one of those life experiences. So 30hrs later we are in Manchester waiting for the morning rush to ease up before venturing on to the M65 and A6. An hour or so with Nick on the boat before some shut eye at the B & B. Wake from that in the evening before back to the boat for an hour or so, visit the chippy and .end the day in a very comfortable bed.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Back Home. Our UK home.

Friday 5 September. 4 3/4 miles, 1 lock.

Beautiful day on a lovely canal. Set off from Kidsgrove in a warm overcast with a light haze day through country side with many beautiful bridges. Reminded us of the Shropshire canal. Pulled into Congleton for lunch then off into town to sort out (try anyway) Diana's phone. I think we are about to give up on T-mobile and ee  networks. Went to Marian and Alan's for tea and then they took us to the birthplace of Reginald Mitchel, then the cloud, the highest point in the area. Couldn't see much because of the haze. They then showed us the flight of 12 locks we need to climb to complete our journey. Apple and blackberry crumble for pudding then back to the boat.

The Aqueduct at Congleton

Saturday 6 September. Nil

We were picked up and taken to Quarry Bank, a National trust Textile Mill. The interesting bit was a tour of the Apprentice House where 60 girls and 20 boys lived while working in the mill for 13 hours a day 6 days a week for board and keep. No wages. Back on the boat by 1700.

Inside the Quarry Bank Mill
The Apprentice House
Went home via Jodrell Bank
Sunday 7 September. Nil

Diana went to Marian's to do some sewing while I fiddled with Molly Rose. In the evening we took Alan & Marian and enjoyed a Sunday Roast at their local pub.

Monday 8 September. 7 miles, 12 locks, 1 swing bridge.

Left Congleton before lunch heading towards Macclesfield. Had lunch at the bottom of the Bosley locks then up the last 12 of this trip. Flat water from here. Planned to stop at a pub for tea but after mooring up found it closed and for sale.

Entering the last lock
The last lock is closed behind us.

Tuesday 9 September, 3 mies 1 swing bridge.

Through countryside until reaching the Macclesfield moorings. A bit disappointing. They were rough, couldn't get into the bank and then there were signs everywhere restricting us to 24 hours and not allowed to run the engine. Bit tough when short of power.All in all not welcoming. Into town and got no joy out of T-mobile even though the shop assistant was doing her best. Changed providers to "3" so Diana now has a new number.

Wednesday 10 September,4 miles.

Went into Macclesfield and visited the Silk museum and had a tour around the Paradise mill. The guide explained all the machinery and turned them on as we went. Lunch in a delli. Diana to the opp shops and I went back to the boat via the hardware shop. Motored on over a high embankment overlooking Bollington and stopped in a country setting further on.

Thursday 11 september, 3 1/2 miles.

Walked back into Bollington and checked out the lower part. Had lunch in a cafe and then checked out the upper part of town which was the nicer of the two. Motored north thinking we may walk into Lyme Park another National trust estate but the house is closed on thursdays. traveled on a bit further then moored up opposite a line of residential moorings.

The Aqueduct at Bollington

Friday 12 September. 8 miles, 2 lift & 2 swing bridges.

Stopped at Marple to do some shopping. We were last here on 14th May at the start of this years adventure. Reaching Marple also completes the Cheshire Ring, which we first got onto on 11th June 2010. Now down the Peak forest canal and back to Furness Vale to moor up in preparation to going home. Tonight the Furness Vale Boat Club were having a meeting so we went along to meet the locals. Some worthwhile contacts here.

Saturday 13 September. Nil.

Worked on tidying and cleaning the boat until about 1600 then off to a BBQ with the boat club.

Sunday 14 September. Nil

Bit of maintenance on the boat. Being sunday we went to the local pub for Sunday Roast in the evening.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

On the Macclesfield

Monday 1 September. 2 ½ miles

Back up to Tunstall (10 min) to try and other supermarket for the bits we didn't get yesterday. Lunch on the boat then headed south and turned up the Caldon canal, filled with water, turned around then walked to Emma Bridgewater pottery, From there we went to the centre of Hanley. Had to have diner in the Reginald Mitchell pub. If you have an interest in aviation history you will know who he was, if not it doesn't matter.

Tuesday 2 September. Nil

Into Hanley to the Potteries museum. Spent a good 3 hours looking at the history, process and a large collection of pottery artefacts. Probably the best collection we have seen. There was a Reginald Mitchell gallery with a spitfire under restoration. A quick look through a large shopping centre then back to the boat.

Outside the Museum
Inside the Museum
Model of a Bottle kiln

Wednesday 3 September. 2 ½ miles.

Set off north heading for home. Stopped for water, visited the Royal Dalton and Wedgwood factory shop, a revisit to Burleigh shop, bought some diesel and moored up for the night.

Thursday 4 September. 3 miles, 1 tunnel.

A short run to the south portal of the Harecastle tunnel where we left the boat and walked to Churchill pottery factory shop, last one! Didn't stay long before walking back to the boat and then through the tunnel. The other times I have been through I was the lead boat, this time I was number 2 in behind a very slow boat so it was idle most of the way and even into neutral several times so I didn't run into him. We were in the tunnel for an hour. Normal time is 35 to 45 min. In the past I did it in 30. we are now on the Macclesfield canal, new territory for us.

Boats leaving the south end of th Harecastle

Monday, 1 September 2014

Back in the potteries

Tuesday 26th August. 4 miles, 14 locks.

No sun yet, no rain either but they day looks bleak Did my first oil change. No problem but took twice as long to clean up than do the change. I should get better next year or organise the changes when the temporary crew are mechanics. A good day of locks with plenty of boats coming the other way. Of the 14 locks only 2 needed emptying and at most there was someone else to open the gates. The OAP's we meet on Saturday came looking for us today and joined as for afternoon tea.

Wednesday 27th August. Nil

A day out with Alan and Marian, the OAP's.

We were picked up at 1030 and delivered home at 2130. first up to a National Trust property, Little Moreton Hall. A Moated Elizabethan house built to impress, to show wealth and gain status. It has been in the Moreton family until given to NT in 1938. The family left the property a century or two ago and the tenants were not allowed to make alterations so the NT inherited an almost original house. They have done a great job with it. Next was Mow Cop via the Astbury church which features on all Cheshire calendars. Mow Cop a ruined castle was built in 1754 on the top of a hill and can be seen for miles around. It looks like the ruins of a castle but was built that way. From this hill we could see almost all of the places we had travelled so far. Next stop was Biddulph Grange Garden, NT. With a quick stop on the way to visit James Brindley's grave. He was known as the father of the canal system.
Biddulph Grange was the Victorian Mansion of James Bateman, who had collected plants from all around the world and laid out the garden in countries. There was the Himalayan Glen, Chinese, Italian and Egyptian gardens along with the Victorian garden. The Mansion had been developed into 5 star apartments and the developer had given the gardens to the NT to return to their original form. Win/Win, apartment owners have a beautiful garden looked after by NT and the people have a delightful garden to enjoy. The real highlight of the this visit was that the manor had been used as a hospital and Marian had trained there and was courted by Alan at that time. Many stories to tell. We finished the day with takeaways at their place and then went and watched Alan play a match of Crown Bowls. Similar but different to lawn bowls.

Thursday 28 August. 3 miles, 13 locks

Finished of the last of the Heartbreak hill locks arriving at the Harecastle tunnel to late to transit so moored at the entrance for the night. At one of the last locks alongside a pub we meet a man with a Barn Owl and got to hold and stroke her.

Friday 29th August. 2 Miles, one of which was underground.

First through the tunnel and moored up by 0930. Set off for the potteries and saw that “Areandare” was a couple of boat lengths in front of us. We have communicated with Barry & Sandra from time to time since meeting Sandra on a tow path a few day over 4 years ago in 2010. We have now meet Barry, who comes from Gisborne. Sandra was away with her sister. First pottery to visit was William Edwards, a boutique pottery we visited last time and thought his work and concept were delightful. The shop was closed but on enquiry a staff member came and opened it up. While talking with her she offered to show us around. Her expertise was to mix the glasses required to match the artists colours. She took us through the whole process from the designs being perfected on the computer, making the screens and printing the transfers. Then a quick look in the factory to see the transfers being hand placed onto the clay objects. Next door is Burleigh Pottery. Last time we were here it was “potters holiday” where all the factories are closed so no tours. This time we found that they now have 2 holidays a year and you guessed it this was the week. The site of the Burleigh pottery is now owned by the Princes trust (Charles) and a few million has been spent on a visitor centre. The factory has been leased out to a commercial operator. After our hard luck story on timing a private tour was arranged and we spent a good 2 hours going through every nook and cranny. Phil the guide, who's Grandfather was there during the war, was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable I'm sure we had the best tour going.

Saturday 30 August. Nil

A day off. Didn't leave the boat all day. Did bits and pieces and a bit of cleaning.

Sunday 31 August. Nil

Wet morning. In the afternoon we walked to Tunstall and found a pub for “Sunday Roast” Best slice of Beef I have tasted this trip. A bit of supermarket shopping then back to the boat where we socialised for a while with the couple from the next boat.

Monday, 25 August 2014

August Bank holliday

Monday 25 August, zero.

Weather not good in the morning so didn't move. Rain stopped after lunch so walked the mile into Sandbach, another of those places where the locals say there is nothing there. A delightful market town with a long history.

7th Century Saxon Crosses

The Black Bear pub with thatched roof

Note the thatched bear

PS. have added photos to last post.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Week on

Sunday 17 August. 2 ¼ miles.

Walked back to Walton Hall to look at the Cycle Museum. A grand old gentleman showed us around his collection. Spent about an hour with him as he had been to NZ and best place was Napier. He happened to be there over an Art Deco weekend. Checked out the local pub for a Sunday Roast, didn't stay as it was just a smorgasbord. Lunch on the boat then moved off. After fighting strong crosswind for a while, moored up with the help of two other boaters in the shelter of some trees. Walked into Daresbury and went to the Lewis Carroll centre. Interesting little spot. Having missed out on Sunday roast we went to the “Ring of Bells” for a lovely al-a-carte meal.
A poster at Cycle Museum

A bit bigger than Napier Tower and no aircraft to be seen.
At a scientific centre on the way to Daresbury.

The Lewis Carroll window in Daresbury church

The Ring of Bells

Monday 18 August. 8 ½ miles.

Stopped at Preston Brook chandler just to see what they had, my sort of shop. Bought some LED bulbs and lights to reduce our power consumption. Backed the boat up the canal a bit and turned down towards Runcorn. Stopped and looked around Norton Priory. Mainly ruins but the under-croft survives from the 17th century. Continued to the end of the canal at Runcorn and walked down to two large bridges that cross the Mersey and Mersey Ship Canal then back to the boat through town. Getting late by this time and not going to stop here. Moored up at the Priory gardens for the night.

Two bridges at Runcorn
The end of the line at Runcorn

Tuesday 19th August. 5 miles, 1 tunnel, 1 lock.

Heading south again and after the tunnel strike the first lock for some time. Just a teaser with a rise of two inches. The lock takes us from the Bridgewater canal onto the Trent and Mersey canal. Spent the night above the Dutton Lock where we spent 2 nights on the Weaver river in 2010.

Looking over Dutton Lock

Moored here where this breach closed the canal for over a year, I think.

Wednesday 20th August. 4 miles, 2 tunnels.

Walked into Acton Swing bridge where we had had a delightful experience at a farm shop in 2010. All changed now and very commercial. Later on we passed the Anderton lift which puts us back into old territory. Lift closed for the night.

Thursday 21st August. 5 ¼ miles.

Had some work done on the heater as it needs to be working now with temperatures dropping.(9 degrees overnight). As we head south it is interesting remembering places we have been before. Last time we called into Marston to look at a Salt museum which was pretty derelict. This time they are spending millions on it but won't be open till next year. Who knows we may get to see it in operation. Later on we passed an boat, seeing our flag “where you from” “Napier” “so are we”. We moored up together for the night. Their house is about ½ mile from ours.

Kiwi flags together

Friday 22 August. 4 miles, 1 lock.

A short day into Middlewich through the last double lock of this trip. Bit of shopping & organised a pumpout for 0900 in the morning before all the hire boats return and get sent out again. Bank holiday weekend.

Saturday 23rd August, 5 ½ miles, 8 locks.

Up and away. If we hadn't been committed we probably would have stayed put as the rain was heavy. Pump out complete and we are number 3 for the lock. The private boats are trying to beat the hire boat rush. In a bit of a rush I slip down the stairs onto my back. Bit of a worry for a while but kept working all day. Went through the 4 locks to get clear of the congested area then moored up to wait a change in the weather. After lunch the sun comes out so off we go . A couple of OAP's talked to Diana at one lock then when we arrive at the next they are there and have opened the gates so we can go straight in. They live near the Macclesfield canal so hope to catch up with them when passing. Picked some blackberries then moored up to rest my back.

Sunday 24th August. 1 mile.

Sun shining first thing so boat has warned up after our Sunday sleep in. pleased to find my back was pretty much right again. Around lunch time we moved on to where I had expected to be last night. Moored at the first spot available then off for a Sunday Roast at the local pub. Becoming a bit of an enjoyable habit. After a quick look around Wheelock and a visit to the Farm shop we moved the boat around the corner to a better mooring as we may be here for a couple of days looking at the forecast. The view out the front of the boat is the first of the 26 locks to get us to the Macclesfield canal. Last time we did 20 in the day

A church in Weelock