Friday, June 29, 2012

A Short Hop

Another good night on the box last night with the Italians beating Germany.

There was a bit of rain over night so we were in no rush this morning, this fellow was behind the boat looking for his breakfast.

We were on the Middlewich Arm of the Shropshire Union Canal, we noticed one big differance with this canal and that is that there are virtually no walkers on the towpath and absolutely no cyclists.  

We only had 2 locks to go through today, on the second one we were the only one going up but there were 3 waiting to go down, the first two were travelling together, Elaine was having a bit of a hard time opening the paddles but neither of the two guys on the first two boats offered to help her, finally two young guys came up from the third boat in the queue and gave her a hand. Now I know you don't have to help anyone with locking but why just stand and watch someone struggle when you can help them and speed up the procedure, in my opinion a couple of miserable old bastards!   

We moored up at Barbridge opposite Princess Anne

 And more importantly right outside The Olde Barbridge Inn where we went for a few beers and dinner tonight

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hot Hot Hot!!!

Elaine here ...
On Tuesday we awoke from our overnight moorings at Hassall Green - my brother, Trevor, awoke about 2 hours before us - but that was to be expected!!!

It was revving up to be a warm day, so we set off for our first of many locks of the Hassall Green locks are intercepted by the M6; Trevor reckoned it was like 'two different worlds colliding'  - oh so true - and how glad that we were in this particular world !!!
M6 whizzing past us !
Bombo and Sam were having a hard day, as usual, but today Sam decided he was going to share Bombo's life ring !!!
Oh, Mum, tell him to get outa my day-bed !
After 13 locks we made a welcome stop at some some excellent services - Wheelock I think it was.  There was also a pet food shop across the road, so while I left the boys to do the water and the rubbish - I ran to the shop with Bombo and got stocked up!

Did I mention it was really hot yesterday??!!!

Not long after our stop, we thought we had better stop for a spot of lunch - had to feed Trev before he left us after his mini 'working holiday' !!
Food time !
Sam flaked out in the life ring - could this be a takeover bid?! Watch out Bombo, he is moving in on your territory :)

After lunch, Trev and I did another 3 locks - of the Booth Lane flight.  You can see Booth Lane in the picture below - it runs along side the canal !

We moored up and walked with Trevor along the road back to Sandbach station, where he was going to get his train back to Macc (via Stockport).  Did I mention it was a hot and sunny day yesterday?  I was soooooo hot and the dogs were even hotter, with their fur coats on!

We decided to walk back down Mill Lane and thence to the canal and down the towpath --- too much traffic the other way - the boys were freaking out !

On the way back along the towpath poor Sam was suffering from the heat and kept launching himself on puddles and mud to try and cool down, so we had to give a very quick dip in the canal to keep him going!  He really didn't mind it - it helped to spur him on anyway !

By the time we got back to the boat we had a text from Trevor to say he was already back in Macclesfield - incredible !!  We had thought we might find a pub on our walk back to the boat but it wasn't to be as the only one we saw was well shut !  When we got back to the boat we decided to move it along a bit - to be closer to a pub that we could see in the Nicholson book.  This meant doing just one more lock !  (Just one moor little lock, Mr Creosote !!!!)

We moored up just before King's Lock at Middlewich and opposite a pub but by this time, I was also having a 'Sam-style' meltdown so had to have a cold shower and a lie down - I was done-for - there was no way I was getting to the pub!  Paul gave the dogs a cold shower also and then popped out to the Chippy over the road and got us some tea!!!

An early night was in order for me but Paul stayed up til God-knows-when, watching football!

After a good night's sleep, we got up this morning (Wednesday morning) and cleaned up the boat - somehow we had gained a layer of grass all over the carpet over the last day or so!  Paul popped down to the local Chandlery with the dogs, but that turned out to be a dead loss for what he was after so he chucked the dogs back in the boat and went for a stroll into Middlewich town - to find a hardware store.  (We have had some pictures from Sydney framed, so he wanted to put them up).

Eventually we set off - we had a quick lock to do (King's Lock) and then we had a sharp left turn to do at the Wardle Canal - which is apparently the shortest canal in the country as it only lasts for 47m and terminates with a single lock !  It connects the Trent and Mersey canal to the Middlewich arm of the Shropshire canal.   There was a bit of a traffic jam with one boat before us and two boats after us going up the lock and 4 boats on the way down - so I had a good chat with various folk whilst we were all waiting our turn.  

A couple of the boaters told me the story of an old lady who used to live at the Wardle lock cottage - apparently she would sit outside with her cup of tea and sort all the boaters out who came to the lock.  Evidently she passed away in March and she is sadly missed by the regular boaters - one lady told me the town gave her a grand send off, when she died, by taking the coffin along the canal on a narrowboat and thence to the Church for the service - nice !  I found an article about here - you can read it if you follow this link - she sounds like a colourful character!

Eventually we had our turn through the lock (did I mention it was hot again today?!) - we passed through the first bridge and we were met by the crew of Lady Esther - who told us that they read our blog - thank you !!! Nice to meet you, albeit briefly !

Bombo assumed his position for the day - it was too hot for him to have his life jacket on today - he doesn't move once he gets in that life ring anyway !

We passed by this grand looking stables building along the way ...

We decided to moor up between Bridge 12 and 13 - where we found a beautiful valley view below.  Paul took the dogs off for a walk - much to their dismay - as it was too hot for them again (me too!).   Here are some pics he took on his walk ... 

When he got back, the dogs were 'done for' and crashed out in a big heap!  We decided to move along a bit because - although it was a picturesque mooring, it wasn't very comfortable for the boat as it didn't quite fit into the bank and all the boats that were going past it were causing it to bash around too much.  Paul was happy to make a move as he had met a chap on the way back down the towpath who told him he had perfect tv reception - evidently there was some football thing on again tonight(!) - so we moved on!

So - here we are at 9 pm on Wednesday night - all the windows, doors and hatches open and still warm!  People kept telling us all day that there were going to be thunderstorms today, but they didn't happen !  We'll see what tomorrow brings ...

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Who Put the Lights Out

We left Etruria at the very early hour for us, of 8.30am!

We stopped for fuel at Longport Jetty and filled the tank.  I am still confused with this self declaration lark; the fuel girl said a lot of people declare 100% heating and charging!!  I replied my name is not Jimmy Carr and declared a little bit!  Elaine's brother, Trevor, also joined us at the wharf - he came to help Elaine with Heartbreak Hill !
We passed a couple of old working boats on the way to the Harecastle Tunnel ...

We arrived at the entrance of the tunnel....have I mentioned that I hate tunnels?!  We were the only boat there so the BW chap waved us straight through - he said that there was one boat in front but he was nearly through the over-2km tunnel.  We quicky donned the rain jackets and went through the entrance.  Once inside, they shut the doors and turn on the very noisy extractor fans. This is the third time through this tunnel so no big deal, except that as he shut the doors the tunnel was full of smoke and I couldn't see a bloody thing ...I nearly had a trouser accident!  The fans came on but I was really struggling to see; I asked Elaine and Trevor to shine the torches on the wall so I could get some kind of reference.  The smoke was clearing so I grabbed my glasses and put them on so I could see a bit better, but I was still struggling to see properly.   I asked Elaine to turn on the nav lights, as they shine off the walls and also help in sitting in the middle of the channel.  About 10 mins into the trip Elaine asked me how I was going, I answered that I was really struggling to see properly - it just didn't seem right!  Elaine then shone the torch in my face and said "You 'kin idiot - you have got your sunglasses on!"  Phew ... normal glasses on and away we went - still don't know what was in front but, by christ, it put out some smoke!

The rest of the trip went very smoothly although it did rain a bit !  Elaine and Trev and some other boaters were very entertained by a chap in his garden, which backed onto the canal.  He had created a scarecrow that apparently turned his head when you shouted 'Jim'!  He had them going for quite some time until they saw the string in his hand ! 

A lot of the locks are doubles but also quite a few have one side blocked or filled in.

A swan kept attacking the boat at Thurlwood!

We stopped for the night at Hassall Green and went for a walk up to the 'Romping Donkey' pub (as advertised in Nicholson book).  Unfortunately the Romping Donkey had bolted;  the pub was either being demolished or rebuilt - so back to the boat for dinner and drinks!

We also found this poor little bugger (collection box for RSPB) - it was sitting on a wall beside the Romping Donkey - it still had a penny left in it ... that was nice of them !

 'til tomorrow ... !
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Aussie Visitors

Very late night last night in the pub watching England get beat by the Italians, what can you say except the best team won!

Today we had visitors from Oz, it was my old work colleague Alison and her family who dropped in on their drive to Scotland, they are visiting Scotland, Paris, Venice and finally Milan before heading back to Sydney. It was great to catch up and have a natter. 

Alison, husband Steve and children Robert and Katie

After they left we decided to leave Milton and head for Etruria, it was  very pleasant trip on quite  a warm day
Patriotic house

Towards the end it is quite industrial mixed in with new developments, nice to see they keep the bottle kilns. 

This bridge is amusing, it has glass panels, the sign says bridge closed, I think they are having a rethink as nearly all the glass have been broken

We also go through Hanley Park where if you were too moor up for a while you would sure get high on the smell of the wafting marijuana, they certainly don't hide that they are having a smoke, all good though, they were all very friendly.  
You vil not escape

We emptied the you know whats and filled the water tank at Etruria Junction and then moved to the prime position outside the Toby Pub, we popped in for a cheapo carvery and a couple of pints, we will stay here tonight and move on tomorrow with the aid of our new crew member for a couple of days, Elaine's brother Trevor.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back In Signal Land

Tonight, we are back moored in Milton (Stoke-on-Trent); we have been down to the end of the Caldon Canal (nearly) for the last 4 days and there is absolutely no signal for Internet or Phone! Coming closer to Milton we started getting reception on the internet and the phone came to life again - it is nice to be back in signal-land !!

On the way down to Consall Forge we passed this boat on the bank ... I think he had been practising his James Bond stunts!
We were the only boat moored at Consall Forge, probably because some people check the weather forecast before they moor on potentially dodgy spots!
It was very peaceful in the daytime but poured  with rain all night.
 This part of the canal shares with the river River Churnet. When we awoke in the morning the water was fair racing by! We decided the best plan was to chuck a u-ey (wind the boat) and get back to safety through the lock back onto the canal.
We had to go down stream to wind ... that was some busy water to pass by !

The river had risen a fair bit and it was quite tight getting under the bridge.  Duck !! 

After we turned around, we were going against the current, so the boat was easy to control but it was a very slow trip at much higher engine revs. 
When we got back up to the lock the river was well and truly in the red (marker) but we were soon back on the canal and moored up safely back in Cheddleton.
In the red !
Some other boaters at the lock were trying to decide whether to go down or not !  We recommended that they didn't !
Explanatory sign re the red marker at the lock !
On Saturday. we decided to walk to the end of the canal at Froghall as there is also a steam train that runs from Cheddleton to Froghall at the weekends and we decided we could catch that back if we wanted.
The steam train also stops at Consall Forge ...

Plus there is the Black Lion pub at Consall Forge, which you can only get to by canal, walking or steam train; so we had a swift half there and took some pics of the passing train...

We walked to the end of the basin at Froghall - which was a fairly long walk all-up, so we decided we would definitely get the train back to Cheddleton !

There was only one boat moored up at the Froghal basin - the reason being that the river was flowing too fast for any boats to get down there! 
It is a really nice preserved railway at Froghall and well worth a look. 

The station tea rooms were very well decked out ...
There was a wedding going on at the station. The wedding ceremony was held in the station waiting room and the wedding party then boarded the Pullman dining car for the reception. Even the engine was decorated!

We boarded the train - travelling in second class (!) and waved at the drinkers in the Black Lion (Consall Forge) as we passed by again ...
Bombo and Sam also enjoyed the trip!  It was a little bit slower than the last train they went on !
After our little trip on the Steam train we were now back at Cheddleton Station which was saved from demolition in 1978!  What a brilliant building !
So, it was then back to the boat, stopping at the Boat Inn for a quick one ... 
The dogs were knackered so we took them back to the boat, scrubbed ourselves up and went back to the pub for dinner. Dinner was fantastic, best so far since arriving in the UK and very well priced. (In Elaine's words it is the kind of meal she 'doesn't want to eat, because she doesn't want it to end !)  It is obviously really popular there as you have to make a booking well in advance!

We also met our 'old' friends, Mike and Sue, from Barn Owl No. 6 - 'Ta-Jo', who were also down in Cheddleton, so we had a few good chats with them along the way !
Today (Sunday) we left Cheddleton and had a good trip to Milton; Elaine did her quota of locks and lift bridges for the day!  We nipped up the Co-Op when we got here, for a few supplies, and very shortly we are off to the pub to watch England vs Italy......Cmon England!!!!!

It's so nice to be back in signal-land !

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