Wednesday 11 May 2022

Better late than never...

 Well well, Reader we are back and well into our journey and I have been very neglectful of you and not written a word..... 
until now.

So I thought it best to give a bit of a precis and bring you up to speed.

We had a start late this year, normally we are back onboard 
NB What a Lark after Easter but this year there were 'Happenings' at home, David manage to catch CV, his second dose, in the house at the time we had our middle daughter Koo, husband Bob and two babies who had plans to travel to Holland to Bob's Dutch family on Easter Sunday, when we looked at David's test while peeling the spuds we couldn't believe it.  David was despatched to the garden where he spent most of the Easter weekend, Koo, Bob and the children evacuated, luckily they all stayed negative and were able to go on their family trip to Holland afterall.

So as we were a bit late by the time David went negative again and it was clear that I hadn't got it,  we decided to be later still by celebrating youngest daughter Verity's birthday in London by going to the Whitechapel Gallery, a great exhibition of Artists Studio's.

Birthday Girl and her daddy.

So finally we were ready, arriving at the boat on a bright and sunny afternoon.  Lots of accompanying faffing with the doubled up luggage being repacked and loaded back to the car and separately a list being made up of all the vital things I've forgotten.

So then where to go....?  
The Ashby had been talked about, The Caldon canal also a favourite but due to a leak in an embankment I think it was, the work for repairs started back in November and have over run as more damage was uncovered, the canal is shut probably going to open in a few weeks more in mid June, so not there then.  Out of the blue I said what about Chester..? So that's kinda where we are off to.

An amusing ditty, as we were leaving I got chatting to a wife on the boat next door.  It was a share boat and they had it for a fortnight but more accurately the husband was having it for a fortnight to go fishing, his wife was going home to and I quote, "To do some decorating".  
Now call me old fashioned but I would stab through the heart any man that thought he was going to be away from home on a jolly and I thought I was going decorating.  
I throw that question open to any person here reading. 

First day out and just look at the weather.

The first day we left the marina we didn't go far but moored up on the lovely open, straight and low trimmed hedge section south of Weston.  Last year we had moored exactly and done a fabulous walk in the woods over the other side of the railway bridge and noticed that the bluebells were coming but not ready.  This year we timed it just right and had a glorious walk there surrounded with the blooms at their peak.

Pretties walking up to the woods

Natures pink and blues

WaL as seen from the footbridge over the railway near Weston.

A couple more stops one of course at David's favourite shop that is M&S food at Stone where treats were brought, quite a few of them.

We carried on that afternoon to Barlaston, last year I had expressed a desire to go visit some of the still remaining potteries particularly Wedgewood, last year it was closed and today it was again and the following day too, as was Moorcroft Pottery and Middleport, not at all annoying.

A round of applause to the people that have done tree trimming all the way along this section of the Trent and Mersey.

I like willow trees looking like this.

These two were playing so cutely along the bank.

While we were doing the Stone locks I chatted to four ladies on a boat for a week, they were very jolly and enjoying their week onboard.  
I mentioned that I'd been disappointed that the Wedgewood museum was closed and that I had last visited it 41.5 years ago prior to getting married
"You've been married for 40 years?"
"Oh yes"
"To the same man?"
"Why yes"
"Blimey none of us have managed that, not even close"
Much chuckling followed especially as their boat was leaving the lock and as one lady scrambled over the beam, I joked,  "Yes careful, get yer leg over" 
"Oh I haven't done that in a very long time...."  

Obviously I shan't identify the exact boat. 

Trentham Lock

Lots of concrete in Stoke.

I can't find any information about this refurb at Lock 64 I think it was, I'm delighted its going to be saved but blimming heck what a job.

Etruria museum closed of course. 

I'm very sad to see the disintegration of these historic buildings, this wall clearly in a state of collapse

Fingers crossed for regeneration

The waterways on this section were pretty quiet as compared to this month last year, I wonder if it's that the Staycation phase has much diminished and folks have gone to find the sun abroad, just a handful of boats moving.  
I had quite wanted to go to The Plume of Feathers pub here again but it was a Sunday and it was very busy so we passed by, had a snuggly afternoon and moved off in the morning washing up at Westport Lake.  

We hadn't been able to moor here on previous visits and didn't really expect to today but plenty of moorings available so we did.  Quite a lot of goose poo which I object to, well I suppose it's more accurate to say I deeply object to the presence of Canadian Geese full stop, but here they held road blocks unchallenged along the tow path in gangs, spitting and hissing at passers-by as they felt fit.

We walked around the lake, it took less time to do than you would think. Afterwards we made a donation to the Wildlife Centre in the form of a cream tea, next time I'll just make the cash donation and not trouble them with one of the driest scones ever.

Next morning on we went to Harecastle Tunnel.  We hadn't booked this time but were prepared to wait.  Within five minutes of arriving and listening to the safety talk we were underway.  He said they'd been busy that morning but we hadn't noticed many boats passing us.

The bright water at Harecastle from the iron levels in the water hereabouts.  An inconveniently moored work boat that made the turn tricky 

Screech of brakes just saving taking the wrong side of the bridge...

Someone please save this old building, if not I'm sure it is going to fall down one day soon.

Anyway an uneventful passage through the tunnel today but it was cold.  We almost moored up just passed the Tesco and Aldi at Kidsgrove but in the end decided to go down to Red Bull service the boat and head on for the delightful moorings at Church Lawton.  As we were pulling in there in the distance was a woman waving her arms and yelling.... Oh gawd I thought we'd taken their intended spot on the water point, David couldn't hear me at the stern so in we went and then
It was non other than the lovely Pauline and Neil on 
NB Waterlily they are on their way south, we were lucky to see them here and not a sail by as we came out of the tunnel not being able to stop.

A wonderful treat to meet again.  We spent most of the afternoon gassing on their boat which with good friends is so easy to do.

The next day errands were run, us in the car to pick up shopping ordered and while we were out and about and it was raining, ( Doesn't it rain a lot in almost Cheshire?)  light showers forecast today, on the south coast that would be about 15 minutes rain but here it rain almost all day, we nipped down to Sandbach home of a lovely little Waitrose and picked up a new pillow for David, an anti-snoring pillow, just as well we did drive as he'd have never have got it into the bike basket!

Back to WaL and Pauline & Neil joined us for the evening and 
much merriment was had.

We said goodbye to the delightful pair wishing them well for their trip to the Thames while we virtually pass by their home marina. 

They departed at about 7am later we reversed to the water point to top up again acutely aware that last September we missed one water point then another and then had to carry saucepans and the kettle when things got bad...

As we set off to the locks in earnest two adorable volunteers arrived with a wheelbarrow and spades, one stopped to help me and the other walked on setting the paddles for the next locks.  Lovely couple of guys one had volunteered seven years ago when his wife died and he was left adrift.  He'd met great friends and was here three days a week.

Today they were continuing  in re-laying the footpath with a slatey shingle, the chappie told me that in winter or the wet weather (So that's everyday) it was a great improvement and the chaps had been wheeling all the shingly slate by hand, they were to finish at the lock as it is now too far to heave the stuff.

Past Church Lawton, 

Glorious views and countryside all around this section.

Fields ploughed ready for maize planting, winter feed for the many cows hereabouts in Cheshire. 

Mow Cop in the distance, a day later David cycled up it.

Cows and blossom what could be prettier?

This couple had lived onboard for 16 years, he's in his mid 80's now she in her mid 70's, she has a badly broken arm but was helming in the locks.

My favourite of all birds, the Grey Wagtail, so named because its yellow.

A few boats moving today mostly down Heartbreak Hill the same as us.  We came up behind another nice vintage boat called NB Billy, the owner told me that although its recorded as a 1904 boat, he'd taken it to Ellesmere Port museum and there under its original name it was written in a book it being built in 1892.  It looks amazing sadly I only got a snatched photo but later this year it is being put on Brokerage, it's owners have lived aboard for five years and want to return to dry land.

Anyone in the market for a stunning vintage NB in the truest sense of the word look on ABC Boats later this summer. 

Anyway NB Billy's crew informed me that this morning a Hotel NB and its Butty had set off from Church Lawton and they were causing a slight traffic jam.  But what a place to sit and wait, the views over the surrounding countryside are fabulous.

I could happily live in any of these cute as can be cottages and watch boats

We moored up finally down in Wheelock.  We had tasty food onboard so passed up the Italian here but did go to the pub.  The Cheshire Cheese.  Where we were welcomed by the landlady like old long lost friends, I so wish we could transport her and the wee pub, that was having live music that night but a bit too late for us to wait, transport her to my town.  We will definitely go there again.

Nibbles at The Cheshire Cat in Wheelock

Well we weren't going to eat out tonight but looking at the menu they had calamari which we love, so with three nibble dishes for £10 we couldn't resist, chicken goujons and nachos made up the trio.

HERE We'll call in again.  

I'll leave this jumbo posting there for now and when I'm strong enough I'll do another.

Talk soon.





  1. That's John and Judith (with the broken arm) on NB Serena.

    To answer your query regarding the fisherman and his decorator. He obviously chose the right woman to marry :-) If Davis has caught COVID twice might I suggest a protracted spell of golf or fishing. Both are well known prophylactics!

    1. Hi Tom and Jan,
      Nice to hear from you. I was impressed by John & Judith, evidently their home is occupied by family, they do go home a bit, but more, they do ten locks a day. Well up on my average.
      You are very wicked about golfing..... D doesn't fish but I am aware its a great way to get rid of a tiresome husband for the day. But to comply with decorating sets a dangerous precedent to my view. You are correct he is certainly not the man for me, my three daughters or any woman I am acquainted with.
      Sunny with you?

      Lisa x

    2. Lisa it's the start of the next season of Game of Thrones here (winter is coming). We had some mizzle yesterday and this morning there was dew on the ground. David must have some redeeming qualities otherwise you would have attempted to push him under with the boat pole. Instead of fishing he's into athletics and swimming (humour mode off) A salient reminder that being around canals can be inherently dangerous and it's an activity frequently favoured by people in their latter years.

  2. Lovely to read of your current episode of boating. And just to let you know I am JEALOUS, JEALOUS, JEALOUS!!!
    I am working again and not even in wonderful Hokitika this time ...
    But we are coming over next year, so we will have our boating fix then.
    Stay healthy and keep enjoying!

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      So good to hear from you.
      It has been fabulous coming back to the boat. Me and the rest of the population hope we have seen the last of the dreaded Covid..... for now at least. I have lived with low level and mild anxiety about it not for me but for protecting my mum. I am heartily sick of lockdowns, go-slow's and staying away from folk. To be carefree on WaL is just what the doctor ordered.
      That's exciting news about you returning to these shores next year. When you have definite plans and dates let us know privately and we will deffo come and find you.

      Lisa & David

    2. Shall do! Waka Huia is back at Debdale and will go up on the hard in the next wee while. Mxx