Monday 27 June 2022

Back home again.

 So Reader, the last days of the trip have fused together a bit as I am remembering.  But here is a pretty nice photo that David took one morning up on Cannock Chase one morning and no I don't know what he was doing up there..

Sadly this last group of photos are completely out of sequence, but bare with me,  the trip was coming down the bottom of the Shroppie, that is the Shropshire Union Canal, turning left at the junction with the Staffs to Worcester canal, along to Gailey, then Penkridge and finally through Tixel Wide and our marina.

We had left Great Haywood Marina back at the beginning of May.  We in general have had lovely weather.  To qualify that last sentence, lovely weather while boating is just not raining.  Nobody much goes boating to get an all over tan,  I know water levels are down a bit and it's a fine line between "Lovely" 
weather and a drought.  
So lovely weather and a fab trip to Chester.  We had been one occasion before several years ago and I would definitely look for to going again.  
The other place I would love to go to again is Lincoln, I just LOVED Lincoln but I'm not sure I will be able to persuade David to take on the river Trent with it's moving sandbanks, high banks with nothing much to see except electricity pylons, but I'll keep trying. 
We could always drive there I suppose.

He thought they were young males as they were growling at each other or possibly at him.

WaL just coming along to Boggs Lock, just down from Gailey

Now this photo below is really for Marilyn in NZ (another blogger) 
Marilyn left a comment to say that NZ is now getting chillier and going into winter, well here we both are in windproof jackets zipped up to the neck on a visit to a National Trust property Old Mosely Hall   HERE   this was probably our 3rd or 4th visit, but it's one of my favourite places.

There was a guided tour at 2pm and we arrived at 1pm so went on a talk/exhibition of C17th Surgeons and their weapons, I mean instruments, well it started sort of okay, then I felt my stomach turn over with descriptions of battlefield injuries and finally I had to leave when she picked up a Trepanning drill.....  Google that one if you don't know. 

We had hot coffee and cheese scones to warm up.

So back to Boggs Lock, just down one or three locks from Gailey.  One top ground paddle was out of action and with the leaking bottom gates, David had to moor up Wal and help me open the top gate.  

Look carefully and you can see what some lazy boater has left thrown into the long grass.  Its a plastic container that has had either oil or diesel in it.
We took it down to Penkridge rubbish point.

Some boaters are horrid and lazy.

Everyone takes a shot like this at Gailey.  

I didn't really know there was a village at Gailey, I know there is a petrol station and the locks, but there is one and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book to boot.

HERE  I had imagined that the famous tower was a bit of a folly but no of course it was the lock keepers watchtower silly me of course it must have been.

Pretties.  Wild rose, maybe a Dog rose..?

Shroppie, straight tree, lined a bit dull but most attractive stone bridge.

Many empty works boats moored up together clanking.

Now who's responsibility is it for the metal work on the aqueduct?  I must petition the Shropshire Union Canal Society to find out, then I'll get David to pay for the paint. 

So Reader as I said at the top of the page, we are home now for a few weeks but we'll be back later in July if all goes to plan.

Talk soon.

Thursday 23 June 2022

A long day but a good day.

We trundled off in the morning, a cold morning too.  We were under the trees at the top of the Audlem Flight, why would anyone ever moor up under trees is beyond me, my husband knows better than to ever suggest it.  

David was off early to ferret the car away in the next county and I got WaL all ship shape and Bristol fashion.

I heard a boat a little after 8am and poked my head out of the window and chatted briefly to a single hander in a vintage boat of vintage years (The man),  I asked him what time he had set off and it was 05:30, lovely it was he said no one about and I can set five locks ahead of me.
Yonks ago we did similar on the Tardebigge Flight as someone had come down late in the evening the night before.

It's a short run from here to the Adderley Locks.  I'd like to say the lady with the lively dog arrived just after us but no.  As they passed us yesterday morning after we had moored up, we promised not to do it again.  
In fact we didn't see them again, I reckon they put a full day in to make sure they stayed in front.

Silage making going on all around, smells wonderful.  This is a big dairy farming country. 

Quite a few boats moving in both directions so it was a sociable couple of hours.

It got hotter and hotter as the morning went on, just look how pretty the dappled shade is....  We stopped very briefly in Market Drayton for milk eggs and bread and were on our way again as the cricket got exciting, yes I can hear you thinking can cricket ever get exciting, well yes in our house as England were playing New Zealand, frequent flyers to this blog will remember we have a cricket MAD son-in-law New Zealand who was watching from his home and had to go for a walk at the end of the close and hard fought match, (England won.) 
As the cricket was on the radio on the bridge I sat in the cratch with my feet up with the side rolled up loving it, I like watching cricket but not listening.

As we approached the last locks to do, the Tyrley Locks, just a few but in times of rainfall these are very tricky.  but today a breeze.  a whole line of boats leaving Market Drayton, the Russell Newbury Engine Fanatics were having their rally, so an exodus probably to escape the noise of those engines.  

The pounds looked a little low but there was still water running down the By-Washes.

I walked from the first bridge the sun was just gorgeous.

Flowers and butterflies all around me.

Here he comes through the narrows.

Two boats ahead and about four arrived in quick succession behind us.

The boat that has vacated this lock was the "Harbour Master" for the Rally, I thought him a bit tardy.

We carried on after topping up with water again at Tyrley top lock and set off almost immediately into the cutting which I find deadly dull, but today made much prettier by way of the sunshine. 

I thought this made such a pretty portrait, pity WaL got in the way

The very famous Anchor Pub at High Offley, I think it's open is all I can say after looking online.  For those who haven't been, it was built in about the 1830's and has hardly changed since. It still had the furniture built at the time too. The death of the Landlady in April 2021 meant it closed for a while.

I don't know what this is so if you do know please do leave a comment for me.

This bridge thing.

We carried on and on mooring finally at a patch of countryside, no one around except the sheep.  Completely blissful.  It was a long day for us, about seven hours.

Our mooring tonight.

Supper was salmon with asparagus and French beans and cake.


Wednesday 22 June 2022

It's that man again and fairies.

It's a rare occasion when I wake up with my husband in the bed, but that was the happy occurrence today.  The car was already in the correct place so D was next to me and still asleep, that bit is the miracle as he's mostly awake well before the Larks.  

I too was awake and suggested to his surprise, shock even that we jump up and do the flight, it was about 06:30.  Late last afternoon a boat had come down the flight, the husband was on a bike Lock Wheeling and complaining that they had had to turn every single lock, so all the locks could be empty.  Very much to our benefit. 

Now to my mind you either do a flight at Silly O'Clock or you start off when most boater are starting out so that you meet boats coming in the other direction.  If you don't understand this then a) Read it again and b) You probably haven't done a long flight yet.

So that's exactly what we did.  Dressed in a jiffy and unclipped the rope clips, or nappy pins as I sometimes call them.
There is water after two locks so we can stop there and fill up.

Well would you adam and eve it???   The very same lady suddenly appeared with the lively Cocker Spaniel, this time walking along with her windlass to also do the flight early.

Again I apologised to her.  
"I've just said to my husband it's that man again" said she laughing, well I think she was laughing.

It's dreadful to admit but the first thing I said to David very quietly was that there was no way we were stopping for water now, (Had we of let them past then us instead of them would have to turn every lock).  I did however lift the bottom paddle for her behind me to aid their passage a smidge.

So below we have the Shroppie Fly pub, we didn't go in this visit but I really want the pub to pick up and be successful but  it needs a bit of investment and someone who is good at interior d├ęcor.
David is in the lock coming up, and on the seat was a man in a very relaxed sprawl for so early in the morning, as I passed him I asked if he would be kind and close the lock gate for David as I walked on and around the corner out of sight to prep the next lock.  He said yes with a smile so on I walked, and to my amazement here was a boat rounding the bend, so we all got to have open gates.    

You can just make out the relaxed sprawling man on the seat and David lowering a paddle.

This is the bend which your boat has to go around and pretty unsighted unless you have a runner.  Then I caught sight of the list on this boat....

David now completely round the bend.

I was very annoyed by this green and cream boat on the right.  It had been moored using pins or stakes, exactly where the bank was fenced off asking boater not to moor there because the back is damaged and falling away.  
But his pins had been pulled damaging the bank further.  
Likely because of the boat moving with the water when the locks are used.  I guess he couldn't be bothered to the other three locks to find a better mooring.

Pulled the soil away.

I'm glad some repointing has been done here.  I'd spend the HS2 budget on canal restoration if I could.

Some late Campion or Red Robin, Ragged Robin or Robin of the Glen I think my childhood book of Flower Fairies of the Wayside called them,

We made it to the top easily with the help of a few boats who had started their way done.  A passing dog walker readily agreed to carry a message down the hill to the boat following us up that there was a boat coming down and to leave the gates open for them, I also told the first boat to pass us that there was a boat coming up and to leave the gates open for them.  Lord knows if any good came of it.

Me up ahead prepping and D closing the lock after WaL.

The very last lock and here we were at the farm where the farmer's wife bakes all sorts of goodies for us to put money in an Honesty Box.  Today they have a card machine so D followed him into the kitchen to flash his card where the wifi is.  He needed his card as I brought; 4 shortbread biscuits, 2 almond slices, two scones with jam and clotted cream, a pork pie and two ice-cream tubs into the freezer for Friday which was going to be a scorcher.  
All totally delicious and highly recommended.

We showered, changed and got onto the bridge to await George to pick us up. This turned out to be a real treat as we were only really expecting to meet up for coffee but we stopped at their house in a nearby village, Carol jumped in and away we whizzed to Trentham Gardens   HERE .

We had the most lovely day with a good catch up, lunch, coffee and cakes and the most scenic walk around the lake here.  Then later back at theirs only going in for a cuppa George with his usual magic produced supper!  All in all a really special day and a big thank you to you both.  We'll come again!

Trentham Gardens lake and some of their Black Swans

All around the gardens are the most lovely statues, I'm very fond of Hares. 

But for me the Fairies  playing on Dandelion Clocks stole the show.  

The Lovely George and Carol.

I'd like a fairy in my garden.


Tuesday 21 June 2022

David I can hardly move.

I found this that I had meant to include yesterday talking about the flowers.  These are not special flowers by any means but very lovely in the sunshine with the butterflies too, in clumps they were growing with Forget-me-knots and in other patches with what looked like to my untrained eye a magenta orchid type thingy which if I did take a photograph of its now vanished.

So we set off at a decent time in the morning, not too early...  We just had the run down to Audlem, a couple of hours.  

As we pushed off, although we had looked behind, we did "Push out" slightly in front of an oncoming boat.  Not immediately in front of you understand but close enough to be annoying to them.

It was a bit breezy but nothing like yesterday, the sun shone, I had my factor 50SPF face cream on to prevent a beetroot look-a-like face and it was a most pleasant run down to the two Hack Green Locks.  We were fortunate to have a boat leaving the lock as we approached.  Waiting there was a nice lady walking a lively Cocker Spaniel, a year old and the lady had passed us by before we set off so she had walked the doggie a good couple of miles.  She said "Oh I was expecting my husband to be here before you"
I apologised and said it was unfortunate that he appeared just as we had freed the ropes, 
She laughed and said oh its alright and we had a chuckle.  We also had the benefit of another boat coming down so they had to wait twice...

We arrived at Audlem and had already decided to moor at the very bottom of the flight which is everso slightly split into two sections with a water point after two locks going up.  We had postponed getting water (See yesterday's post) and I was a bit twitchy about running out, David just says it'll be fine there's plenty... So reluctantly we didn't fill up.  

But there are only moorings for maybe two boats after the water, under trees (Yuk), if they are taken then there's a chance of mooring in a pound further up the flight but its more crowded and I like the view at the very bottom over to the River Weaver, but if the pound moorings are full then you are committed to doing the entire flight.  

We did a bit of faffing, had a late breakfast, a bit more faffing and then some swearing from the stern of WaL where I David was tidying up.  He'd gone into one of the stern lockers and saw that the huge tin of black paint we use for the gunwales had popped it's lid, overflowed at the lid and all over the floor of the locker.  Great.
He had it on his hands and shirt when I got there, then the new mats had some, the mallet too "For gods sake stop touching things" I calmly instructed ummmm

Well with the help of latex gloves I just happened to have onboard and my nail varnish remover, lots of kitchen roll and several bin liners,  a complete disaster was avoided.

He finally sat down in our cratch with a coffee, and tipped one of my cushions into his cup flicking coffee on the new carpet, himself and the cushion cover.
I was hearty sick of the sight of him by now.

Later we got changed to go have very late lunch or conversely very early supper at the Lord Combermere Pub here.  I cannot go past this place, its a great favourite    HERE  

Our overnight mooring unbeknown to us we had snuck out in front of another boat..


The food was terrific as usual, I had fig and goats cheese tart so much cheese I shared it with David, then the slow cooked pork shoulder which completely melted in the mouth.  Sadly I couldn't face a dessert, I could hardly move. 
I waddled back to the boat and slept soundly.

We must go again. 

Sunday 19 June 2022

The wind blew.... again

The forecast today had the wind increasing steadily, reaching it's peak in the afternoon.  
David wasn't too bothered as he has "Cissy Buttons" otherwise known as bow thrusters.  Some Boaters of a purest nature, maybe vintage boat owners, pour scorn on such things however when WaL was being built exactly ten years ago this month  (She was launched at the Crick Boat Show 2012, it was freezing cold I remember, at our B&B that evening I was really looking forward to watching the replay of The Flotilla of Small Boats for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and what a debacle that was thank you BBC, however I don't hold a grudge do I David...?)  Anyway when we had WaL built I insisted upon having bow thrusters as I was and still consider myself to be a novice and unconfident helm, but for the most part David uses them to get WaL out of the way of complete idiots and on windy days.

Phew all that said, we set off.  I walked to the locks in the early morning sunshine.  It was gorgeous, different butterflies fluttered, the buttercups were out along with what I thought is a wild orchids in magenta and everything in the world was delicious.

The view through a gap of the fishing lake last night.

Its hard to capture the colours of wild flowers as they are spread all along but as a whole they are lovely.

On the way to Bunbury Locks

No one at Bunbury waiting so we made our way carefully up the double staircase locks.  You could see the wind on the canal coming straight down towards us.  In the shade it was cold.  

Its a little bit of a dull section now from Bunbury towards Barbridge and then down past the Junction for the Llangollen Canal, us two now with fleeces and I had a woolly hat over my ears.  Walkers on the tow path had tee- shirts and shorts on they must have thought me very odd.

We didn't water up at Bunbury Locks as there was a day boat on the lock landing being loaded up with picnic gear and in the wind it would have made the job tricky.

The next waterpoint for us was at Calverley but another boat was on the waterpoint and still filling, David decided to press on and fill in Nantwich.  I reported on here last September we had discovered the waterpoint at Barbridge has been removed, 
We were pretty low of water.

Top lock at Bunbury, several tiles missing from this stable block, I hope it will be looked after.  David in his winter fleece, sunhat and shorts.  He says his legs don't get cold.

The junction looking down the Middlewich Arm, we came up here on the 20th May.

So on towards Nantwich.  At Hurleston Junction there was a bit of a bun fight with three boats in a row heading south and the lead hire boat wanting to make the right turn onto the Llangollen Canal but being unable to get their bow around in the wind which by now was stronger, the boat behind also wanted to turn and managed it, we had no choice but to go past them unable to help, I think they would have to put a man on the bridge and pull the bow around with the rope if the rope was long enough.

Unsurprisingly at Nantwich the waterpoint was also occupied, they were still straightening out their hose to the tap so probably going to be a while.  David said if he waited on the opposite back we'd never get off either, so we pressed on.  

So Reader at Nantwich the canal is high up on an embankment 

Looking down at Nantwich, pretty sure these weren't here the first time we came through on WaL

It's a novelty to gaze down at houses and cars on the left as you head south, on the right hand side are tall trees giving much appreciated shelter from the now very strong wind blowing straight in our faces.

We carried on out of the trees and shelter, by now I had stopped enjoying it.  There was a straight section with armco and two moored boats there, spaced out.  
Oh god lets just moor up David...  we squashed ourselves in-between the two boats, actually the wind blew us in, well short of the Coole Pilot moorings we had originally intended to stop at.  Both boats looked unoccupied, but later we realised with slightly red faces that they did have occupants and we hoped we hadn't hacked them off parking so close.

I took these two photos from the boat that afternoon, I liked both and couldn't choose so you get both.  

Supper was Coronation Chicken with rice and salad, dessert was a complete treat as David had spotted Raspberry Panna Cotta in Waitrose half price, wowsicles.