Thursday 26 May 2022

A fateful pressing of the wrong buttons.

 So it's like this.  For the first time ever on downloading the photos of our entire time in Chester, I requested that the were deleted from my camera at the same time.  Never done that before, never.

Then when I had completed the post from yesterday I started removing BY ACCIDENT all the photos not yet used.

So that's that really.  We went to Chester, did stuff, went places and left again.

I don't usually use my phone for a few photos so we'll just gallop through those and I've learnt my lesson.

So this is the sight that greets a boater the last lock gates open, the grey buildings on the right are new to when we were here a few years ago.  As you can see it was quiet here on the moorings, but expecting an influx we moored up button to button and there were a few more boats by tea time.

Thank goodness the majority of the historical buildings are left.

The road almost next to the boat was Frodsham Street, a direct walk into the centre of town.  According to Google Frodsham is a Celtic name, now weren't the Celts here before the Romans?

Well you might no believe this but these buildings are not Tudor, they are indeed Victorian, some roads in the city centre were widened and in some cases the Victorians put smart new fronts on the buildings.  Our Tour Guide was disdainful of it but I do think that these adjusted properties have a beauty of their own.  

Rebuilt in 1921.

An iconic view of Chester, the clock on the city wall, or a Victorian rebuilt city gate to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee.

Quick change now to the Cathedral, the Normans built the abbey but on the site of a Saxon church.  So in the photos below, you can see one of the oldest parts a Norman archway but above the mini arches are in fact Roman, early form of upcycling materials.

You can google Chester Cathedral for a picture of the exterior, I haven't got one.

So a day later we made a trip up to the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.

It was a great trip.  A quiet day there, but lively weather, we got caught in a downpour but look here at the blue skies.

The local seagulls have performed on this information board, but it shows the the tugs, pulling the flat bottomed barges across the Mersey river from Liverpool to Ellesmere Port where upon it was transferred onto canal narrow boats and away down the Shropshire Union canal.  This slipway was to pull up boats for repairs.

The slipway today.

Now a very unusual thing happened in the Engine Room, this lovely man finished his coffee in the sun outside and talked to us inside and made me understand engines, in fact he was thoroughly interesting, even captivating I would recommend visiting the museum for him alone but it was a very worthwhile place and after all these years I'm delighted to have been.  David Lewis should know that in April I think he said they have an open day with all the engines working, the volunteers all dressed up, a day for your calendar.

Fabulous chap, engaging, knowledgeable and interesting.

I now understand why a Bolinder engine makes the sound they do, but don't ask me to explain.

Russell Newbury.

Engine Room.

Below are the two sets of locks that could take the narrow boats down into the lower basin, then access down further to the Manchester Ship Canal.

The forge, a Blacksmith is in residence today still for metal works.  There are six furnaces so it could have been a busy place in its day.

The view across the Manchester Ship Canal and behind that the Mersey river and Liverpool.

In the museum here is NB Friendship, new in 1924, that is to say 98 years ago.  Joe and Rose lived onboard her for over 50 years working and remained living onboard even after he retired and had a house, they used the house for storage.

Restored NB Friendship.

The cosy cabin

Original plates.

Joe and Rose.

David had asked me if I'd like to go to Afternoon Tea at The Chester Grosvenor before we arrived,  unsurprisingly I said Deffo Baby, it was dead posh and delicious.  

Now this was a surprise, a silage tractor through the middle of Chester.... I wondered if he was lost but no.

Our last afternoon was spent walking the city walls and stopping at The Architect Pub, with its extensive gardens, overlooking the Racecourse and it's good food, David had his sun hat and I really needed mine. 

So we ascended the five double locks heading south on our way to pop WaL into Tattenhall Marina, our sister marina.  We are away from Boating for another couple of weeks, more about that on our return.

Chester is the most lovely destination for Boaters.  I've loved it and while we are home David has given me the choice of routes home to Great Haywood, via the Shropshire Union Canal or to retrace our steps back to the Trent and Mersey via the Middlewich Arms.  

I've not decided yet although David asks me often if I have.


Flaming row and a dear deer.

while I grapple with WiFi problems.  We are at home and simply have no WiFi at all.  

It's not at all annoying.  We had one visit from a BT chap who said the the minimum speed BT guarantee is 12 something's and whilst he was here he measured 2 something's.  So that is the situation, barely enough to power the phone and certainly not for two phones.

Another BT chap coming out ASAP.

So just now I'm having another bash at blogging on my phone which is just about okay as David isn't here using all the WiFi.

So where were we?  Oh yes.  Bunbury, well the next morning we set off in really lovely sunshine and it got better all day.  David had already moved the car and cycled back so in the heat of the day we were never going to do a very long day.

This section down from Bunbury Locks is really beautiful, that is to say fairly open with views across, undulating low hills with cattle and sheep, but fundamentally it's May, all is fresh bright greens and very lush, my absolutely favourite month.  

Another boat came into view behind us when we were already in the lock, I yelled to them are you coming in?  Indistinguishable reply... Are you coming in I yelled again still unclear, but in I had emptied the bottom lock, this is to allow the water from the top lock to fill the second lock as you descend.  So feeling a tad miffed that although a hire boat they were not communicating adequately,  

"Yes" finally was a response...

They then completely hashed the approach after dropping one crew member so by this time I had refilled the lock, David was irritated by them not responding but worst of all the crew member didn't bring a windlass with her.  From the stern of the hire boat came " Reverse reverse! FOR GODS SAKE!!!"

So now maybe twenty minutes or so after I had first called to them they were in the lock with the gates shut but due to the leakage the bottom lock had filled up.  By now the the other two crews were off the boat but not one had a windlass!

I said well I'm going to need one of you with one of with one of these waving my windlass in the air, with that nothing... But the Anglo Welsh manager came out and he worked the locks with me.

Unknown to me David was talking to the helm,  they'd been out for a week together and had not gone well, to such an extent the helm had been put off boating completely.  None of the crew spoke but kept the eyes down walking in different directions.

I said to David later that I hoped they had arrived at Bunbury in separate cars.....

Finally the BT man came today.  He says he's got the speed up to 15 somethings.  He was originally from Jordan, he said the signal in this country is the worst in Europe.  My daughter has said that in New Zealand last year when on her brother-in-laws boat three miles off land she gets a strong 4G signal, that would be nice n'est pas?

We had some company in some of the locks but if memory serves me well this is the Iron Lock, the walls of the double lock are distorted now so only single boats advised to go in.  Did I say it was hot?  Well along the way came a runner he had a number on, ran over the bridge over the canal and away over the adjacent field, then another appeared and then a dozen more.  One stopped momentarily and I asked him where he was going, Malpas to Frodsham doing the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge run, this was an "Ultra" run of 34 miles, 55 kilometres!!!!  It was sweltering but oh golly what an amazing feat.

Gorgeous scenery.

A passing boater yelled across to us there's a deer on the hill!  Slightly disbelieving I started peering through the greenery and yes here it was, I presume guarding a fawn as she didn't budge.  But there was pretty high fencing along this section so I'm sure it is a venison farm, I hope no one is squeamish.

Not a ghastly Canadian but a single Greylag Goose

So we passed a field and saw this machine in action, David called it a forage wagon, but the difference is that it picks up the mown grass for silage and chops it without a forage harvester machine.  A step on from our own farm where we had a forage harvester plus trailers.

So this was the end of the day for us.  As with all the other boats from both directions that day, the Shady Oak Pub with a large garden and wonderful views of Beeston Castle.

A lovely afternoon for me relaxing with a new book.  We spoke briefly to another boater, he and his wife had brought their boat out from Tattenhall Marina down the canal, he'd previously had an ocean going boat after leaving the navy.  He started a holiday cottage rental business and it was so successful they had added their own home to the rental portfolio so lived onboard for the summer.  They had done this for a number of years now but still hadn't done a lock just coming out of the marina, coming along to here and returning via the nearby winding hole.
No judgements from me.

No Git Gaps here.

A most relaxing afternoon and warm evening.  A change in the forecast tomorrow I fear.  

Friday 20 May 2022

So Reader I'm not entirely sure what has happened to the layout of this edition, but boredom and lack of interest prevents me from spending one more second trying to rectify it, that and downloading all the photos while I did my make-up, cleaned my teeth and made the Boat Polisher in Chief coffee then to have a slip of the finger and they all disappear....  so bare with me and normal service will be resumed tomorrow, perhaps.

So on the Farming news front, below you will see maize drilling has taken place along these parts.  Maize is a type of corn on the cob for dairy cows and Cheshire is a big dairy farming area.  Maize likes a fine tilth, dry-ish and then nice warm sunshine.  Well we have two out of three.

In yesterdays posting near the beginning I included a photo of a tractor pulling a trailer of silage bales over a bridge, lets not comment that I think it was too heavy on our heritage bridges but silage also is winter forage for dairy cows.  All this makes May and June very busy for dairy farmers.  Not so weather dependant as hay making back in the last century or when my husband was doing all this palaver but safe to say he does not miss farming (and I ask him regularly). 


Maize in neat rows


Delightful bit of mission creep on the gardening front here.

Looks a bit peaky but I'm told it will be okay, also a bit weedy tut tut.

Poor people rushing off to work

Now I do love a threatening sky.  It was cold today but not wet.

Most attractive house of the day.

Former stabling for the boat pulling horses now saved and converted into holiday lets

These are not shutters but sealed up portholes..... each to his/her own of course but unusual.

Pretty Hawthorne blossom going over now but so attractive in the hedgerow.

We made our way along the most attractive Middlewich Arm, a small canal that joins The Trent and Mersey canal to The Shropshire Union canal a bit like the figure H with the Middlewich being the line between the two uprights.  

So one lock later  (That had a nice volunteer in attendance) we rounded the junction onto The Shroppie.  Its changed a bit since we first came here, now houses are built right on the junction and a busy road runs parallel to the canal.  

Lorries running right alongside the canal here, there were traffic lights here and the driver of the tipper truck was waving to us.

We continued along mooring up near Bunbury Locks, a staircase of locks.  There's an Anglo Welsh hire base here, more about that later.

We jumped in the car and set off for Beeston Castle, several years ago actually six years ago in 2016, it was David's birthday, that day we sat in the very hot sun in the garden of the pub here called The Shady Oak and admired the view.  This time we were visiting properly.
Googlemaps directed us to somewhere else entirely, David's old fashioned road atlas had the castle in the middle of a myriad of lanes, in the absence of any road signs its a miracle we ever arrived but we did.  

This view is from the other side of the canal, not available to a boater

It was built in the C13th and stands on this sandstone ridge.  You can read more HERE  But Cromwell knocked most of it down during the English Civil War bless him.
It was a bit hazy today but below are the views for miles

Estimated to be towards Stockport or Warrington.

The other hilltops of the sandstone ridge towards Wrexham.... generally.

Very possibly towards Chester, there again possibly not.  As I said it was hazy.

Looking out of the gateway

The hilltop still has dense woodland all around it, in a clearing English Heritage have built an Iron Age Round house.  I was irritated that the door although supposed to be open had been locked by the volunteer and the window spaces had their wee wicket fence shutters fixed in place.  

Its much bigger than you would think

The straw roof was very thick and the wooden struts huge.

I was further irritated in the cafe that you can have a cream tea served with tea or served with an Americano coffee but not a Flat White coffee, I mean who makes this stuff up?  Only the British could.  It was the last scone unsold too but the computer said "No".  In the interests of fairness Reader I am often irritated by the National Trust too.

"Scone-Gate" aside it had been a great trip even if there had been a howling gale on the top.  We drove back to Bunbury village and its gorgeous.  I could retire to here and I don't much like villages.  

We arrived at the locks and a sizeable crowd had gathered.
Now pay attention Reader and I will try to explain what was occurring.  Two boats were alongside each other coming up, one it has to be said was a Hire boat with a novice helming  plus a boat was going down,  all this under instruction and supervision of the Anglo Welsh manager.  So it means that one coming up boat goes forward when the middle gates open, the second boat moves over to the space vacated by the first boat, the boat which is coming down goes forward into the space newly vacated by the second boat.  The shuffling starts aided by the managers foot to get the two boats going up alongside each other again, ropes attached, then the gates close and both the top paddles and the very bottom paddles can be operated.

(All this can be demonstrated at home using soup spoons), anyway add to the mix spectators, dogs on too long leads getting underfoot, fairly high winds and the novice helm taking fright and you may get a flavour of the entertainment.  
Oh I nearly forgot to say that here is a rather large fallen tree just as you approach the top lock restricting manoeuvring in the wind and a privately owned NB waiting on the lock landing who's owner had no sense of humour, should have seen the inevitable consequence of having his pride and joy moored right where the stern of both boats would need to swing to avoid hitting the fallen tree. 
David said to him well before he twigged "Don't worry its a contact sport"  this made me laugh but not him.

Down at the very bottom of the staircase flight were two hire boats waiting to come up, dressed as French Maillot's (Have I spelt that right?  French sailors) were they were on the beer already, a stag do..... 

So although we had enjoyed the Lock performance we got our comeuppance as in good time one of the hire boats and walloped us at speed, white water flowing behind him as he went at 90 degrees to the canal.

So here is the top lock now with two boats facing different directions.  On the lock landing in the distance is the privately owned boat which was moved..... in the end.

The yard manager on the roof, holding ropes, pushing and pulling boats.

  Who said boating isn't fun?

Supper was salmon with tender shoot broccoli.