Monday, 25 July 2016


This was the sky last night.

It was lovely weather the next day.  Kirsty went for a run and I didn't.

We continued along the Middlewich Canal.  So lovely to see the sun after yesterdays rain.

Such fun to have very willing helpers leaping into action.

Last one onboard is a cissy.

"Oh oh Girls just wanna have bridges..."  A most attractive one here right before the junction onto the Trent and Mersey Canal.

David pushing his weight on the Middlewich locks.

Wild perennial geranium,  my garden has lots of this.

We carried on on this brand new piece of waterway and very very lovely it was too.  Rural, wooded and attractive, then all of a sudden a green oasis came into view..... STOP!!  What here?  Now??  Yes David.

I am not sure what name this has, I have forgotten, but it had evidently only very recently been mowed (This was according to another passing boater)  but it was charming.  An old railway went from this loading area to a nearby clay pit.  There is no access outside the canal.  We moored up and had breakfast, a very good breakfast too, thank you Kirsty.

He wouldn't turn around but way way off was this Buzzard.

Roasted tomatoes, avocado toast, poached eggs on toast followed by fresh fruit.

Onwards after brekkie.  We needed to go on a few miles to the next winding hole (Turning around place) then turn around, the guests are catching the 8:20am train in morning back to London and to work.  We needed to be back near to the car to get them to Crewe again.

So with the sun gleaming through the trees and the wind in our sails off we went again.  I love summer.

Now hands up if you think you could turn WaL around in this space below....?  

Well had I been consulted I could easily have told the Captain there wasn't a hope in hells chance of getting around.  But no I wasn't and  wedged we well and truly got.  Bob on the pointy end with a barge pole pushing and shoving, Kirsty and I heaving like things possessed on the back end rope and David calling out more effort needed to all.   
The fun ended with under the breath mutterings from me and huffing.  But what it did mean was that we had to travel much further along the canal to the next winding hole.

Solar panels provide free energy..... 

See how lovely it all looked?  Then we arrived at Northwich.....

This Heron was on a gantry right over us.

I haven't been here before and it made a real contrast to the surrounding countryside.  Yonks ago it was salt works and today I think it was still manufacturing a salt derived product, but I can't remember what.

So finally turning, we would have to cruise later to get back to the car, but with heaps of crew it wasn't a problem.
Back at Middlewich this private boat was across the canal.  Kirsty and I jumped off with a mallet to fix it at exactly the same time as a hire boat approached it from the other side of it.  
The hire boat had many passengers and most of them had jumped off too to help.  It was quickly hauled in and luckily the pin was in the water at the end of the mooring rope.

The side hatch was open as was the back door, one young lady from the hire boat was a doctor and concerned that there were no replies from our all calling, she went inside to check that the owner wasn't unconscious on the floor.  Nope,  
no-one aboard, except for a large parrot walking about on the dining room table.   There was an iPad in clear view through the side hatch window, as was a large TV and the boat unlocked.

We all joked that the boat owners that the owners would never know our good deed.

We got to the next lock outside a pub, I was on the towpath and decided just to ask the drinkers alongside the path, if they had a boat around the corner...... the second couple I asked said it was their boat.  The one with the parrot?  I asked, the one with the open doors?  With the nice iPad and TV available?  Well Reader the lady looked a bit sheepish but that was all.  Amazing!

We had supper in the warm sunshine and on the back deck.  It was courgette and chorizo pasta.

A great day full of contrasts.

Please excuse the white back ground, it was a mistake but I simply can't face re-doing it tonight.  Apologies.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


There was a bit of excitement today, visitors in the shape of middle daughter Kirsty and her boyfriend Bob.

Koo hasn't been to the boat in the last two years and as Bob is tall I always fear for tall persons heads.

We had already long ago decided that Crewe was a great place to get them from with great links to London.  We set off in good time not knowing where the station was but David had studied the map how to get there....  
But at the first roundabout David said yes turn left here and there was a sign for the station pointing to the right, which way would you turn?  
Well of course I went right.

We arrived on the outskirts just as Kirsty was calling us to say the train is delayed an hour.  Marvellous.

David saw a Superstore through the trees he took to be a huge Sainsbury's however it was a B&Q, no point in us going in there.

Twenty minutes later the train pulled in and there they were. Actually it had only been a week since we had seen Kirsty but its always a treat.

We headed back to Barbridge where we had left the boat unloaded and scuttled in the The Barbridge Inn where we had called already to put the reservation back.

The food was good, very good, the service was a work in progress, many staff asking all the same questions but non delivery of items despite repeated requests.  But all done with smiles!  I would definitely go there again.

I had Roasted pork fillet and baked white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake. 

The next morning we set off firstly to the water point at the junction of the Middlewich Arm,  the guests were quite chirpy, but it was early days.

The weather started off well but fairly quickly deteriorated ....

We moored up when it got this bad.

Kirsty is a sports buff like her dad and was very happy to moor up and watch The Davis Cup, after which they both cycled off to fetch the car, while Bob studied his book on The Highway Code. Later he and I jumped into the car and went off driving.  He really liked our car too.  We set off not really knowing where we were nor where we were going, two hours later there was the boat.  

The weather had improved greatly by now so off we went again.  The guests both had long turns driving and I have to say they were both considerably better than me.  The sun shone, the birds sang and the wine flowed.

Bob happy out of the rain in the car.
The boy done good.  Ooooo look what Kirsty has in her hands.

Happy and confident

Our mooring tonight, Distant views over the valley.

We sent them on to look for a good mooring, they knew what was good.  Thank you Steve and Denise for your guide to this section of the canal!!!

Supper was courgette and chorizo pasta with cherry and almond tart and extra thick cream.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Chester, Lets spend longer here.....

So for very complicated reasons, we went to Chester today, in the car.  The car was at Barbridge which is a cute little village north of Nantwich, The Olde Barbridge Inn is also there, its highly recommended too.

I have wanted to visit Chester for over thirty years, but being that we live on the south coast and Chester is in the north of England, we are never nearby to call in.  So I am soooooo very excited to be here.

The best bit about the day was that it was sunny.  To my new Reader in Brazil, take pity on the UK as we are having a very damp and chilly summer this year, frankly I am rather hacked off with it, I have suggested to David that winter sun is getting close to being an emergency.

We drove in and found the first car park.  The first thing was Google maps to see just where the City Wall was....
Nice surprise to find it was "Right in front of your big fat nose", this is a family expression usually directed at the one one you love the most.  Right next to us was the Amphitheatre  most impressive.

Semi circle of the exposed Amphitheatre, where the children are is the north entrance.

The school under which are the remains of the rest of the Amphitheatre.

Low flying Gladiator on the loose in Chester.

The remains of the main North entrance with that Ring Road behind.

Impression of how it would have looked with north gate

The amphitheatre, which in case you didn't know was the biggest in our whole country.  It was only rediscovered in the 1920's when a school teacher of the nearby school said that the curves of the brickwork uncovered to extend the buildings of the school, could be the walls of an amphitheatre, she was laughed at, but she had the last laugh when proved correct.  

The local Council wanted to re-bury in the 1960's I think, so that the Ring Road could go bang through the middle of it, (The 1960's was a bad time for our heritage...)  the is caused a furore and the road eventually went around it quite happily.

We got up onto the walls.  There are traces of the original Roman city walls here, but by and large the walls we see today are only medieval, as if medieval is anything to be sniffed at.

That weir down there is Norman, NORMAN!!!!  The bridge was built in the fourteenth century, at that time one of only a few crossings into troublesome Wales.  Are you listening America? A fourteenth Century bridge!

C14th Bridge and the Norman weir, which was built to keep a head of water flowing to run the corn mills.

 So maybe you can tell I think Chester is a tiny bit fantastic.  Three quarters of the way around the city walls we got our first glimpse of the canal, in this place its down in a deep gorge.

So who knew that Chester invented Double Decker shop?  Not me, but they did and unaccountably this super clever feature was not adopted by any other towns.  There reasons that this style was adopted here are not really known for sure, keeping out of the filth on the roads or keeping out of the weather is another idea, but not really known for sure.  But its brilliant.

So the shops with this feature are known as The Rows.  They were in the beginning all wooden framed buildings, the Victorians rebuilt some much later in they tudor style but these were all brick structures, after the Great Fire of London it was considered too dangerous to build wooden framed houses in a city and made illegal.  A couple remain.

So double the amount of shops per building.

This imposing one is a victorian copy of a tudor style.

The walkways through from shop to shop

I might be wrong but pretty sure there were not warning signs for head injuries in medieval times...

The fronts of the shops on the first floor have interconnecting covered pavementy thoroughfares so that you can walk the length of a street inside although the fronts are open to the air.  At ground level they are not joined, so the end effect is to have these double decker layer of shops, giving so much choice to shoppers, Fantastic me thinks.

So over the course of two days we walked the city walls, visited some fine hostelries, went shopping, did a guided walking tour of the city and went to The Grosvenor Museum all in all really enjoyed ourselves.
City wall with former towers incorporated into the walk.

Beautiful period house with modern ring road going past.....

Looking down onto the modern day canal.

Canal form the city wall.

One of the last wooden framed shops

Somehow this beauty survived the canon bombardment of the English Civil War

King Charles 2nd famously stayed here and escaped the Roundheads.

Hilarious Town Cryer.

Supper was spicy salmon fillets with asparagus.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Einstein, Gorbachev and Glasnost.

Having an insomniac in the family has its uses, yesterday for instance, we were to leave home in the morning to return to Wal, we have got the departure of a home down to almost an art.  David gets up,  empties the fridges (There are two of us at home and two freezers and three fridges which I just can't manage without.... but it does drive David demented.)  He packs the car,  washes out the fridges, makes the tea and delivers it to me.  I on the other hand, drink my tea, get showered, dress pick up my handbag and get in the car.  Easy.

The M25 for once wasn't bad and after enjoying Sushi and flat whites (A taste we developed in NZ last year) we arrived back at Overwater Marina just north of Audlem on the Shropshire Union Canal in a little over four hours.

We have found that staying in the marina an extra night very worthwhile, as having loaded up the freezer and fridge, we use the leckkie overnight to chill them properly, to save hammering the batteries.

Supper was D's fav again, avocado toast but this time with giant prawns on top, yes more fish!

A most pleasant night was spent at Overwater and we departed today for the long trip all of two miles or so to visit The Hack Green Secret Bunker.  We had been told of this place and decided to call in.  It was built as a radar station during WW2, there are some old radar equipment outside and a small jet aircraft.  Inside after WW2 and for the Cold War it was converted to be a Regional Gov' Centre.  Inside there are rooms and rooms of communication machines linking this bunker to others and in the case of a bomb going off, to plot the fallout out and to warn the general public.

According to the map there, where I live, there weren't any Soviet targets or bunkers.  But you lot in the midlands and the north would certainly have copped it.  Sorry.  But don't worry as this sign would have helped with vital information for your safety.  

Well the sign said a nuclear missile....? Lets hope its an empty casing.

Machines like this were for plotting the radioactive fallout.

You might be able to read this sign, a Soviet Enigma Machine.

This was pathetic, these suits showed how the population could be suckered in.  The Nuclear protection suits.  Made of no more than that of a "Pac-a-Mac" fabric.

This was a Soviet Suit, it was for workers post blast to wear for rescues etc, thought that no worker would have survived for longer than a few days.  Didn't say where they got it from.

Damage from the epicentre outwards.

Love these colossal sized tele-printers.  Vintage now but spaced aged back then.

Ooooo trendy red computers and ├╝ber modern chairs.

The bunker had a television studio for a possible broadcast and also a BBC radio studio to broadcast to the nation.

It was quite a chilling visit, sometimes I laughed at the futility of surviving.
I can remember oh so clearly cuddling my new baby when Margaret Thatcher met with President Gorbachev and afterwards declared "I like him, I can do business with him"  I for one felt the very real threat of nuclear war lifted that day.
Glasnost arrived and then The Wall came down.  Hurrah.

Supper WILL be tonight, Lesley's leek and fennel seed risotto.

Our mooring tonight...
Is that sun....?  Yes but it didn't last.  Heating will be going on again tonight.