Sunday 31 July 2016


So the last day in Chester, the real last day and I was sorry about it.

Same viewpoint, not sure how old this photo is, but I think boating is altogether more enjoyable today than then.

Early-ish up and a purposeful walk along the city wall which is right next to us to the North Gate, then into town to a shop David had been told about, A Cheese Shop.

We took twenty minutes or so deciding and brought four different ones, or was it six?  

Ambling back to the boat still enjoying high temperatures and sunshine, pulled the pins or to be pedantic, untied the ropes and set off around the corner, along a bit through the gorge type cutting under the dramatic city walls and onto the lock landing for the triple staircase locks here.

City Walls at the top of picture.

Corner Tower of City Walls

Just look at the different layers of the walls.

The canal was blasted through the rock in the 1700's

All the locks were full of water, a pair of boats had recently come up.

Easy, read the instruction board, then scratch head, read the board again and to go down the locks, empty the bottom and middle locks.  Then have crisis and walk back up the hill to the board at the very top and read the board again.

Yes, I WAS doing it correctly.  I had been expecting to have seen a lock keeper here but he/she was clearly on holiday.

WaL in the top chamber

See the rock walls?  This chamber caused me worry.

Middle chamber filled to the brim before I emptied it, it didn't fill as high again.

My Old Dutch about to come and help...

Now the worrying thing for me, and Reader I was very concerned, was that on arriving the three were completely full.  
To go down WaL takes one lock of water with her to descend.
But, on emptying the top lock of water into the middle lock and WaL going down too, the water level now in the middle lock was well below the wet mark on the lock wall where the water had come up to only minutes before.  

Now to this simpleton, that means that there is not the same quantity of water in the middle lock  as there had been to take the previous boats up, only about fifteen minutes earlier.  I was very concerned that WaL might touch, scrape or worst case get stuck on the cil between the locks.

David was a very long way down inside the lock and frankly not much help, I think he shrugged his shoulders....  but in the event he put the engine into neutral and wafted to get over the cil.
Nothing happened.

All this time, I had been telling this small giant, 'Dutchman' next to me my concerns, this couple had been walking on the city walls above us, seen the action and come down to watch.  I was soooooo happy they did as....  

Next problem soon arrived.  Me and My Old Dutch, shut the gates, opened the paddles and waited for WaL to descend into the bottom, third and final chamber, then could I open the gates? I could not, not a millimetre, David getting a small shower at the back there from the leaking gates was yelling "Its ready, open", we were pushing it and shoving it (I think you'll find thats a song) but still no movement at all.  Me and my Dutch, went over to the other gates and tried those but no joy.

I reported back to the Captain....  He was deep deep below, did I ever tell you Reader he does not like heights?  To have had him climb up the ladder to help may have involved the services of an Ambulance.

Suddenly a dog walker was on the other gate, giving it repeated wallops with his derriere and BINGO!  The required gap appeared.  I called out my deepest thanks to him but he didn't stop, just called his dog and walked on without a backward glance.  Thank you sir, I really don't think we could have done it without you.

The Giant Dutchman and his very nice wife thanked us for the show and waved goodbye, resuming their walk.  We went on and out of Chester into the scrubby countryside.  

I think some of this is old....

We had almost passed this plaque before I saw it, but Mr Rolt was from Chester.

Restored canal buildings in the basin.

We moored up at Chester Zoo, or pretty close enjoying the afternoon of sunshine.

The next day jumped in the waiting car, drove to Old Trafford and had a day at the cricket for David's Birthday treat.  We saw Mr Cooke and Mr Root get a century each, a great day.  The next morning the Boat Sharers arrived and we departed for a week at home.

I called my mother the next day, "I've broken my arm!"  she announce with great aplomb.  I didn't want to tell you or you would have driven home too fast on the motorway...
So this is what I have been doing since and why this blog has been so disjointed.
WaL is in B&B and we will rejoin her as soon as.

This place had a car park.

Selfie Sticks forever!!

Sir Matt Busby (Evidently important)

I like to think these people in Hospitality had to pay serious money for having to stand the entire day to watch, we had seats.

Mr Ali in the nets.

This idiot sat in the full boiling sun all day without cream or hat and was seriously burnt, I couldn't  take my eyes off him.

My dear old mum

Friday 29 July 2016

Chester..... again.

Another really hot day in the making and we set off north to continue our journey to Chester.  Yes Reader I know this is complicated.  But Chester just cannot be visited in a day, or two  actually even three isn't enough really, so even after visiting by car twice last week here we are again.

Watering up at the top of the five spaced double locks down into Chester I was thrilled to see a pretty boat coming along, I called out that we would be five minutes....  Oh alright we'll wait for you, said the driver, who turned out to be called David too such great company one half of a lovely couple.

All downhill these locks so David oiked a bike out for me.  His wife Rose now has dodgy pins and to continue boating she has had to come to helming, but she was very nervous.  I thought she did brilliantly and told her repeatedly.

It was sweltering, I think one of those days that got close to 30 degrees, now sadly a memory as I write this from home.

We whizzed along have three of the locks in our favour and after mooring outside Waitrose in the centre of town, on newly installed rings that have been installed by the nice volunteer lock keeper I met two days ago, (Grand work men).
We moored up in the centre of town.

I was just putting away kit from WaL when a nice lady stopped by to chat.  This is Linda.  Linda is a blog reader!  She also has her own blog too   HERE.

Sun hats worn in anger today.

She couldn't stop long, firstly the intense heat made her dear little dog wilt and secondly they were leaving town in the direction we had just come from.  A pity we couldn't have chatted for longer Linda, but next time we can.  Lovely meeting you. 

Now look carefully and these next three photos.

WaL coming into this final lock, but note the old water tower behind him.

Look at the pub behind with mock tudor beams

This photo was taken in the 1970's and you can see both

Former warehouses and stores now a trendy bar that we didn't get to visit... this time.

The canal side has been so very attractively restored.

Fab cottages that would suit me down to the ground, if its always sunny like this I mean. A local resident said its a great place to live as visitors don't come here and its quiet.
We walked into town, we mooched and I brought a new dress whilst looking for ice creams.
We took a tour of the cathedral and I took these pictures for Lesley K with whom we travelled last summer and visited certainly three if not four cathedrals and in each one we learnt that during the Reformation, that pesky Cromwell defaced all the buildings of their paint and decor.  But here at Chester the lady chapel has been restored to what they believe was its former glory.

We made our way to the river.  David was on a protracted business call (Because as he always says Reader he is only SEMI retired) so he followed me as I ambled along, he followed me along the riverbank, onto the dock and up the steps onto a riverboat, he sat down still deep in conversation and when he finished the call, looked around himself as if to say Whats going on here then?

I fancied a boat ride I said laughing.  Nice gaffs on the riverbank, here are a few I would quite fancy David, if we retire here....

We walked back via the City Walls to WaL.  My feet were very sleepy and it was suggested by I can't remember who that we have an aperitif on the canal side where David had spotted a Craft Beer pub.  It had closed so next door looked ok, we went in. OMG I really didn't mean to but we just couldn't help ourselves, they served Apero Spritz, my fav drink from Italy, then some idiot asked for the menu to peep at only....

Fab food, I had homemade pate and the nut burger with halloumi, I never usually miss out on dessert but this time I couldn't eat another mouthful.  Delicious and a Fabulous place   HERE.

Waddled to the boat, slept very well.

Birthday Boy

The next morning was glorious.  Hot and then it got a bit hotter again. 

We set off and delighted in the unfolding countryside.  
It was David's birthday.  He was very young today.  

The first lock we came to there was a boat about to go into it and one just exiting this way so grand.   Charming couple and we did a couple with them.  This lady had a wheezy chest so in the heat I hurried along the towpath to the next lock just around the corner, in the hope of having it prepped before she got there.

I rounded the bend and hailed to the two ladies emptying the lock that there were tow boats approaching, backs kept firmly towards me....  "EXCUSE ME!!!!"
Oh its half empty now, if I had of seen you coming I would have let you have it, she said with a forced smile on her face.
It was only a quarter empty now.
Yeah right! I said and sat down on the bench.  Call me old fashioned but I would never have taken a double lock in the face of two boats arriving.

To rub salt into my annoyance there was only one boat coming up.

Anyway, it turned out to be "The Iron Lock"  so called because the walls are made of iron, not built by bricks.  It has warped and so the walls are now not straight and when two boats have been alongside one another they have become wedged so now the signs say one boat at a time.  My annoyance subsided.  
Really Reader I am a most calm and good tempered lady.
This is the iron lock below, now distorted so one boat only at a time.

Along this stretch was this narrowboat with the biggest floral display I have ever seen.  Stunning.  David wondered if the blooms might impede visibility.

The last lock along this stretch and then we saw the pub The Shady Oak which had been highly recommended by a passing boater I had chatted to.  Most unusually for us we stopped for a beer and most of all to soak in the view....

Beeston Castle.  I am told that its a terrific walk and view, another time though as we have a show to get to.

We cast off again and onto in the hopes of mooring in Waverton which was the car was waiting for me as appointed driver tonight.  Which we managed to quite nicely.  

Quick shower and change boy it had been hot today, jumped into the car and off we went to Fav town of the moment Audlem.  I have come across a leaflet on WaL that I and picked up weeks before when we were first in the Shroppie Fly about "Idle Women" a one lady play about the women working in WW2 on the canals, also poems and songs.  We had thought we would be at home for the performances, but here we were and it was on David's birthday too.

It was a grand evening and we sat outside the Shroppie Fly on a fabulous summers evening, can't say that too often about the UK can you?

The show starred Kate Saffin who had written and performed the play "Isobel's War" and Heather Wastie who had devised and performed Idle Women and Judies.

Kate Saffin

Heather Wastie

It was a terrific evening and it was the last performance of their season, you can read all about it,  HERE    I look forward to next year and would encourage others to as well.

Oooo didn't I say?  we had an early supper in The Lord Combermere.
I think its the fourth time this trip......

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Keep calm and carry on....

The following day Reader it was all action for me, I had to get up.  The departing guests were to be taken to Crewe Station well in time for the 08:14 to London.   This achieved we deposited them and hugs ensued and the disconcerting news was that they had so enjoyed it they were going to come back and this time stay for a week!

I know boaters who would move their boats to avoid visitors finding them..... no names clearly.

David and I played Supermarket Sweep in the biggest Tesco I have ever entered in my life.  I left him at one point to nip to the loo and had to phone hime to locate him afterwards!  On the bonus side it was empty and fully stocked.

On returning to the boat with the car hidden and shopping almost fitting into the fridge, we cast off and after about forty mins reached the first of the two locks on the arm.  We were the fifth boat in the queue.  I made David a coffee and went off to the lock to help.
Reader are you like me in that you feel that the boats coming into the lock appear to in the words of Sarah from NB Chertsey  HERE   "Wait until the boat leaving the lock is safely in the next county.."  A great quote Sarah I read and never forgot,  so in a drawn out way it was our turn finally and do you know what Reader?  I turned around to watch David come in smartly but instead he is on the lock landing chortling and laughing with the bloke from the boat behind not even looking to see if it was ready.
I kept calm, somehow.  The next lock was better with hardly a pause, not quite sure why.

The temperature was rising and the skies solid blue and we headed north towards Chester.
This first picture below is looking back at the canal of the section where the canal winds back and forth under the A51, I like the way it appears to be a dead end.

I love this original signage on the building.  

Our mooring tonight,  great birds flying all around the trees, no other boats, hardly any wifi but a lovely spot.

It was a whopper alright.

This was around the prop!!  Well we had thought it so however as luck would have it, it was only draped over the rudder and came off without a fight.