June 30, 2011

Alan and Chris went off to the Nantwich chandlery this morning and Sheila went into the shops, so it was about 11.30 when we set sail to Audlem. On the whole it was a sunny day, though there was a brisk wind that caught the boats as we went through bridges. It didn’t seem long until we were at the Hack Green Locks which we went through briskly and then moored at the top for lunch. All very civilised!

When we last came this way it was the depths of winter and the Hack Green nuclear bunker was closed on weekdays. Today it was open and we wandered along there after lunch. Chris and Sheila had gone on ahead and it was amusing as we went around to see them on the CCTV or at the other end of long corridors. Alan and Chris both found it fascinating, Alan because of all the radio and radar equipment, some the same models that he has owned and some that he has worked on.

It was only a short journey on to Audlem. Chris and Sheila will turn back towards Nantwich tomorrow so they needed to stay this side of the locks. We stopped on the River Weaver aqueduct with the beautiful view of the Weaver valley in front of us. The pond at the bottom was a rich blue in the sun. Alan disappeared off to NB Wyre to play Irish jigs on the recorder with Sheila on the fiddle and Chris on the concertina, and then we went for walk around the village. There are flags everywhere at present. We finished off with a pub meal at the Shroppie Fly.

My first receiver R1155 and transmitter T1154 (with bright yellow, red and blue knobs) both from Lancaster bombers.

The canals are used for all sorts of things.

Today we did 5.28 Miles, 2 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2773.43 Miles, 1727 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 97 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels

Meanwhile back in Nantwich

June 29, 2011

It’s a good thing we are very fond of Nantwich because here we are again. It was a relatively short travelling day today, just a descent of the Hurleston Locks and then the short run along to Nantwich. We had moved along to the water point above the locks just after 8.00. Our friends on NB Wyre went on first and Alan worked down with them while I stayed with our boat, and then he worked back up with a single handed boater. I had packed away the hose and was ready to leave when I saw a convoy of boats heading towards the locks so went quickly into the top lock with the assistance of the lock keeper. There wasn’t a lock keeper on when we went up last Sunday and it certainly makes a difference to the smooth running of the locks having him there. The water flow was much better and we didn’t run aground in the second pound down this time.

There was busy traffic from Hurleston to Nantwich and a consequent difficulty in finding moorings when we got there, not helped by an impatient boater who wasn’t prepared to hang back while both boats tried two spaces before the aqueduct that were just too short in both cases. As always there were inconsiderately moored boats and a boater who couldn’t possibly move up the eight or so feet between him and the next boat which would have permitted us to get in. We ended up going all the way past the aqueduct to the last two spaces before the no mooring area. Chris and Sheila had a good long explore of Nantwich this afternoon and I wandered in to shop as well. Alan followed me an hour later. He is practising playing reels on the descant recorder ready for a session with Sheila on the fiddle and Chris on the concertina. There is only so much practice that I can listen to in the confined space of the boat!

Sheila and Chris

Nantwich Embankment

Today we did 2.88 Miles, 4 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2768.15 Miles, 1725 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 97 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels

Hurleston Junction

June 28, 2011

Today was much pleasanter with sunshine but a fresh feel. Maybe it would be good to have a less fresh feel as the wind is pretty lively, but I do prefer it to the humidity.

We headed off towards Wrenbury around 9.30. The trickiest bit is going past the Dusty Miller pub and through the electric lift bridge. There are boats moored on either side, always a cross wind and it’s a difficult angle to get under the bridge. That hurdle past we moored ready to walk into the village. Alan spotted a boater called Bruce who he had chatted with on our way up after noticing a concertina painted on the side of his boat. He is a concertina player and Chris (from Australia), who we are travelling with at present, is a concertina maker, one of only eight world-wide, with on average a four year waiting list. Chris had a go at some repairs that Bruce needed on a harmonica but obviously wasn’t carrying the necessary tools with him on a boating holiday.

Wrenbury has an annual scarecrow trail and this is the big week. It says on the website that there are usually around 100 scarecrows. We didn’t follow the trail and so saw only a handful that were on the green and the route back to the canal but the ten or so we did see were quite fantastic. All were larger than life. There was a female troll influenced by Scandinavian legend, a stylishly dressed full size and upright on hind legs Dalmatian dog figure at a large gas bbq with a small dog on the hot plate (haha) and a male figure wearing a smart suit and bow tie with two taps for feet and a shower attachment as a cane (tap dancer!). The ingenuity and work that must go into this was amazing. Wrenbury has always seemed a very attractive village to us and it’s obviously got a strong community feeling. Also a very good village shop/ post office from which I bought some delicious granary baguettes for lunch.

After lunch we went on towards Hurleston Locks with no particular decision about whether or not to go down. We knew that we would leave the journey into Nantwich until the morning because we would find it difficult to get a mooring late in the day. The three Baddiley and two Swanley locks were dealt with in quick time, crossing with ascending boats at each, but no queues. We had feared that the Llangollen at this time of year would be a nightmare with heavy traffic but it’s been fine, less boats than in April last year and a good water level. In the end we have moored just before Hurleston Locks as we had all had enough for today. The visitors from Australia want to enjoy the experience without feeling that they have to rush on and we of course have all the time in the world.

Cooking a hot dog

A Troll

Today we did 7.12 Miles, 6 Locks and 3 Lift Bridges

Statistics so far:-

2765.27 Miles, 1721 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 97 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels

There and back again

June 27, 2011

It was so hot last night that sleeping was difficult and we woke early. Not as early as some however, the first boat passed us just after 7.00. We got underway about 7.45 and made quick time through the first three locks reaching the lowest of the three separate Grindley Brook locks around 9.30.

We had thought that we would go through the staircase locks and on to Whitchurch to meet our friends but they had done a very long day yesterday and were already in Whitchurch. It seemed sensible, if we could manage it, to turn before the 3 rise staircase.

While we waited for the final of the three lower locks we chatted to a lady on the boat following us and she said that they had managed to wind in the pound below the staircase in the past and they were also 57 ft. The boaters waiting in front offered to let us go before them through the last lock: we would attempt the turn and descend immediately and if we couldn’t get round they would come up and regain their rightful place. So off we went. Alan put the bow into the curve on the far bank and started the turn. To me on the bank it looked as if we had masses of room. His more mathematical eye told him that we might not do it. Sure enough, with our long stern fender on we couldn’t, even with enthusiastic help from all the surrounding boaters. The fender had to come off, and we then managed the turn with everyone pushing and me pulling the stern rope. Back we went down the three locks to moor and wait. I suspect that the kind people on that boat in front of us were wishing they hadn’t let us go on when it all took a lot longer than we had hoped.

It was so humid that everyone was longing for it to get back to normal British non-summer. We put the parasol up for the first time since it once saw the light of day in June last year. It was such a novelty that I couldn’t work out how to get it down again. Around 12.00 we walked up to the Grindley Brook shop for bread and bacon for lunch and had just returned to the boat when we had a text message that the Australians were at the top of the locks. (I say Australians simply because that is where they are living: Chris was at school with me in New Zealand and Sheila is Irish.) We ate and then went to meet them on their way down.

By the time they had moored the rain had started and continued through much of the afternoon. The temperature dropped several degrees. Talk about a day of two halves. However at 5.30 the rain stopped and we decided to go on for a couple of hours. The mooring was very crowded and Chris and Sheila had a boat moored so closely behind them they were almost sharing living rooms. We returned to our mooring of last night. The sky was grey and menacing and as we came up to the mooring the heavens opened again and we were somewhat drowned by the time the ropes were fastened.

We have learnt something interesting while travelling along. We were in front of Chris and Sheila and were going at tickover past moored boats. Chris called to ask if we could go faster as even at their slowest they were over running us. Alan travelled on their boat between the last two locks and found that they had very little flexibility in speed: the smallest touch sent the boat off fast. We will understand in future when hirers go past us at a greater speed than we would wish. There’s still no excuse for the gentleman who was making waves the other day!

Today we did 9.31 Miles, 12 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2758.15 Miles, 1715 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 94 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels

Near Marbury

June 26, 2011

We started off at 9.00 this morning, going first to the winding hole south of Nantwich and then back past our mooring about thirty minutes after we left. We have friends from Australia who have just taken out a hire boat from Trevor and we are moving along the Llangollen to meet up with them.

We reached the bottom of the Hurlestone Locks just before two hire boats, both crewed by Americans, none of whom had any experience of working locks. There was another boat ascending the four locks just in front of us and there was a short wait at each lock so I spent that time giving lock working lessons. There seemed to be a lot of running up and down the flight by the second set of Americans who were clearly quite apprehensive and they were coming back with messages about boat movements ahead which they didn’t quite understand, so it got a little confused. Meanwhile the boat ahead thought we were the novice Americans and very kindly started emptying each lock for us as they left it. A lady from the boat came back to explain why they were doing it. At the second time she asked me how long we were out for and when I said three years she realised that we weren’t really in need of a helping hand! Anyway it was kind of them and I was also helping the boat behind so it was passed down the line.

It was about 11.30 by the time we left Hurleston and very hot and sunny. We pushed on steadily from then on, eating lunch on the move. Considering the Llangollen is usually very busy there weren’t many boats passing and we had minimal waits at the locks, if any. Most sensible people were probably moored up to enjoy summer before it finishes. As we went through Wenbury to the first, manual, lift bridge it was raised and a South African lady hirer hitched a ride across the canal on the boat in front of us and told me that it was jammed so she was leaving it. Alan was walking so I transferred him over as I took the boat through and he shut it with no difficulty. I wonder if she had left others open? Alan raised the electric lift bridge for me and another boat that was hovering and I went through and pulled into the side to wait for him just past Dusty Miller. There was a strong mistral blowing across the canal and as I jumped off with the centre rope the bow was blown right across the canal: I was rescued by a man from the boat moored behind who helped me pull it in. Alan took forever and it seems he had opened the bridge again for another boat following. When we set off again there was no need to push the boat off the side, it was a matter of getting going before we ended up on the offside bank. We remember wind being a problem at those moorings when we were there last year.

We made it past Marbury Lock before deciding that was enough for such a hot day: it was then well past 4.00. The canal looks very attractive in the sunshine and there are masses of dragon flies and butterflies buzzing around. I hope the Australians don’t think that they will have the same sort of weather for two weeks, that would be miraculous!

As I was writing this a hire boat from Wrenbury went past so fast that we dipped right over to the side and he was making huge waves. Alan yelled a bit late and I had the computer on my knee, or he would have been yelled at in stereo!

Today we did 11.66 Miles, 10 Locks and 3 Lift bridges

Statistics so far:-

2748.84 Miles, 1703 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 94 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels

A Saturday in Nantwich

June 25, 2011

We have been home for a couple of nights for various appointments, and arrived back in Nantwich late yesterday afternoon. The boat was just fine where we had left it, but all alone as we are now minus NB Blue Point: Liz and Robert have gone on down the Shroppie. It does seem strange without them!

Because we had arrived fairly late we decided to have a takeaway curry from the Indian Ocean in Welsh Row. We had a meal there the first time we were in Nantwich. It wasn’t brilliant but it was just before Christmas and packed with office parties. However when we returned after our winter mooring we had an excellent takeaway so we decided to give it another go. This time the takeaway wasn’t good, less appetising than similar dishes from the supermarket only more expensive and we definitely will never give them another chance.

This morning started damp and grey so we didn’t wander into the town centre until late morning. It was a very busy place. We started at the indoor market where we bought a small selection of vegetables, then went to the butchers for sausages and lamb. I wasn’t taken with the pork pies though they are obviously are great draw as there was a big queue. I was glad when we discovered that there was a farmers’ market in the town square including a stall selling fabulous pork pies. He had a sign up saying that he was a Rick Stein favourite. As his pies are as good as our favourites from Todmorden market he’s now become a Lazydays favourite as well. There was also a honey stall selling jars of honey and other beeswax products. Alan is determined to keep bees when we stop travelling on the boat so he had a chat while we bought a jar of honey. The stall keeper said that he had started with two hives and now has over forty. Its lovely honey, nothing like the blended bought stuff.

This evening we had a drink with Christina and Tim from NB Ray of Light, first met on the Caldon, and more recently at Castlefield.

The 4 Amigos

Statistics so far:-

2737.18 Miles, 1693 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 91 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels


June 21, 2011

It’s funny how our perception of time changes: it seems an age since we met Liz and Robert on the Wigan flight, perhaps because we were visiting new places and travelling with other people for once. However it seems only yesterday that we were last here in Nantwich, whilst in fact it is at least 15 months ago.

I am glad that we were out in the lovely sunshine most of yesterday. It seemed a distant memory today! We were back to wind and showers. We had made an early start, well at 9.00 which was early for us and meant that we were second in line at the two locks. The Middlewich Arm of the Shroppie looks very green and attractive at present after all the rain and there are some wonderful views over the Weaver Valley.

The boat that we followed into the locks was one that we were also following yesterday; a couple with their daughter and baby grandson, only 18 weeks old. The daughter had been out working all the locks, sometimes with her mother depending on who was with the baby, and the father also helped as well as steering. They were pleasant company. At the second lock of the day they were all in the boat during the waiting time while another boat descended. Maybe grabbing a bite to eat, feeding baby etc and they had probably been up since the early hours. We are grandparents, we know how one little baby requires a team effort. Alan wandered up to the lock and found the woman on the descending boat with a lemon face and even sourer tongue. She thought that the crew from the waiting boat should be up helping her and obviously didn’t listen when Alan said that they normally did. Alan told her to jump on her boat and as she passed me holding the boat she shrieked that I should have steamed straight in, they didn’t deserve to come into the lock as they were so lazy. I didn’t know there was a rule that you have to help other boaters through locks, I thought that was good will and sometimes if you can’t, well they would have to do it all themselves anyway if no one else was waiting.

On we went through Barbridge Junction and back to Nantwich to find it busy as usual. The moorings are always full but many people stop to lunch and shop and then go on. We had a quick walk into town: we know Nantwich well after winter mooring here.

This evening we went for a final drink and meal with Liz and Robert on Blue Point (or at least a final drink for this trip). Tomorrow our ways part and we will find it strange travelling on our own after all this time together. It has been a real pleasure to be with them ever since the Wigan Flight, along the Leeds and Liverpool, on to the Rochdale, in Manchester and down the Bridgewater. Happy days!

Today we did 10.75 Miles 2 Lock

Statistics so far:-

2737.18 Miles, 1693 Locks, 177 Swing Bridges, 91 Lift Bridges, 50 Tunnels