Monday 26 June 2023

And things were going so well.

 David did some maths during last evening, calculating what time we had to leave this mooring to get to Overwater Marina where WaL was booked in to stay, to see the manager of the maintenance shed where WaL was going to have a few jobs done. (We had moored up earlier than we had wanted to due to the mother of all thunder storms catching us early in the evening, we could have done another 90 minutes boating easily).  
I think we should leave at 05:30 he declared.....
Jesus wept.

Frequently Flyers to this blog may have gleaned that I am not a happy riser at what I consider to be the night time, I will do so, sometimes when the need is acute, even without moaning. 

I pushed the front out, neither of us spoke, no bangs or crashes so to avoid disturbing the lovely neighbours who had helped us moor up in the gusting squalls as the storm started last evening.  I should also add Reader that WaL does have a very quiet engine.  We have been accused in the past by fishermen of sneaking up on them..  You can never please fishermen.

Now you may have to use your imagine for these early early early morning shots of the dawn breaking through these trees, even I loved it.  But the photos have come out a bit flat.

Nice looking maize coming up.

The well known aqueduct at Nantwich coming up

Look Reader, too early for cars.

Some very pretty Jerseys.  But be warned Jersey bulls are extremely fierce, probably something to do with little man syndrome.  David says that Guernseys are darker and dont have such good udders, so now you know.

Oh I just love that untouched water thing you only get at silly O'Clock.

So we got to Overwater in good time, actually before they opened....  The manager was nowhere to be found. 

But we sorted everything out and headed for home about twelve.  We always seem to take two hours to leave from mooring up.  Anyone manage it quicker?

The journey home was the very worst in the history of our boating.
The motorways were busy, the sun was blinding, the air con on the hire car was working haphazardly on the drivers side (I do the driving in cars Reader, David's driving makes me scream) there was a crash on that well known car park the M25, the temperature in the car was 33C, my nerves were frazzled in the heat, Google and I aren't speaking anymore after it took us on a detour through the dense countryside of Surrey and to the single lane bridge on the River Wey where things descended into farce and arguments with 500 cars all wanting to get over it.  Our 4.5 hour journey took almost 8 hours.
There Reader each time I share the horror of it the trauma lessens.

We will be home for a fortnight, but I finished this blog at home so see you shortly.  

Friday 23 June 2023

Can they fix it?..... Yes they can!

CART were due this morning.  They hadn't arrived at nine, nor ten.  Then a couple of CART men arrived, looked around a bit and departed again.

This went on, by now there were several boats all lined up behind us, most chomping at the bit.
We had run out of milk and the chaps on the boat behind very kindly gave us a pint of UHT they had spare.  It was a tiny bit of the Blitz spirit.  Over the hours we had learnt about the wedding the man on boat three was going to in Scotland and his reservations on the bride.  Learnt about the Maltese crew in boat four and the appalling weather  Malta was having just now.

More hours past.  it got hotter and hotter without shade.  Behind us and closer to Aqueduct Marina was a farm or at least some buildings with pigs, their perfume began to be on the breeze.

Finally the senior engineer arrived from gawd knows where, but this is a big area.  The planks to stop the water had to be replaced with steel ones, the person who drew the short straw had to go in and clear the debris from the plank channels, there was heaving, sweating and I thought I heard Ross call out "Pivot" ( Reader sorry but that was an hilarious scene from Friends).  

This breakdown had been caused by hapless and careless boaters dropping the paddles.  We have met a couple, usually a certain demographic of Boater who think its fine to drop them, who say they were designed to be dropped, who say I've been boating years and I always drop them.
Well if you do stop it.  They break.  There is precious little money for repairs.

David took most of these shots, they are in no particular order but you get the jist. 

Sweltering hot day, so lets all wear thick plastic High Vis jackets.

Lady kneeling was in charge.

The long awaited steel planks in position

Tut tut the windlass left on the paddle, (This side was not effected)

Us at the front of a tidy queue.

It was tested, it worked and we were away.  A round of applause broke out as we went on our way.  It continued as we passed the long queue of boats waiting to come down.

It was late in the afternoon, I thanked the lady engineer profusely for working hard, it now meant I could get my mother to her reunion.

We carried on through the second lock watching all the while as the black clouds filled in, grew blacker, we turned onto the Shropshire Union Canal, hearing thunder all around,  
Just moor up!!!

We did, two men from boats either side popped out to grab ropes, I thanked them and got them both back inside their own boats as the drops fell, David got wet doing the tonneau cover, the thunder was right overhead and lightening now too.
Phew, what a storm, the thunder and lightening petered out but the heavy rain continued till midnight.

Supper was fish and French beans.  

The cool air was wonderful.


Oh what a beauty

 So we had a a day or two in hand now before we were going home.  How to spend them.....?

We moved on the following day.  But just a bit, David was remembering a pretty mooring, frankly there are plenty along this Arm, it's hard to recall precise mooring spots a few years later when hedges grow and change but around the corner  we both said at once "Here it is."

So after about an hours cruise, we moored up again.  The forecast was very very hot and we had another tree.  Priceless.

Two boats past by, both the drivers separately called out, there's rings around the corner...  We thought about it but decided against it as we were on our own and on the rings were other boats.

So due to the high temperatures we hid here.  Still time to get to Overwater, still time to loiter.

David helping at Stanthorpe Lock, I felt my back ping at Big Lock that morning.

So in glorious idleness, I can heartily recommend this book.  I have read all of Mr Norton's books.

Rather nice that the internet was iffy.

Our own stretch that day.

But can you see the cloud formation behind me?  I didn't seen it until later.

Saved by the tree.

Quite a few walkers in the heat.

Then it was rumbles of thunder and this had crept up behind me.

I might out my chair away says I,
I think we are going to miss it, says he...

Well yes, it walloped it down.

Supper was herby chicken salad.

The next morning the grass was dry and the temperatures rose again.  
I do love this tree David...  I suggested that we stay here for the sweltering part of the day and do an evening cruise.  This was met with enthusiasm so we did.

My day was spent chortling to this book, really funny, everyone should read it.

If you only read one book this year make it this one.

So on our way in the cool of the evening.  The land falls steeply away here.

Reader here we have a field of Holsteins.  The very breed widespread now but David's father started his herd of Canadian Holsteins way back in the 1950's

David says the top line is okay, a bit straight legged on her back legs and she could do with more rib... David won prizes for his stock judging when a young man.

A complete contrast in scenery now.

I thought these were holiday homes, but here's a For Sale sign, any takers?

The last of the yellow flags and Queen of the Meadow

My first Foxglove, almost missed it.

Is that...?

By golly yes and he didn't fly off either

A bit of jiggery pokery with this one to make him stand out but I don't think I needed to.  Later in trees we saw two flying along together but of course then no camera ready.

The idea was to do the two locks tonight then David could leave early in the morning to toddle along to Overwater Marina, David dropped me and I went up to check no one coming down.  But the entire paddle gear had CART tape on looking similar to a murder scene.

Oh what luck, a broken down lock.  The first boat on the lock landing had a opened cratch door so I knocked to gain further info.  The lock had broken the previous day, CART had been in attendance today.  Not resolved so they were coming back tomorrow and "Hoped" to get it working.

Oh gawd, our extra day under the tree had been expensive.  I had made a solemn vow to get my mum to her thirty year work reunion which was in two days time....

In my head I started making Plan B's 

Supper was savoury pastries and salad.

Finally we are off again.

Flippin' Heck we had a phone call this morning from the car recovery company.  They had just been given the job and called immediately.  
Meet you at the car in 30 minutes.
David on his bike and toddled off.  They arrived together, hitched up the wagon and good riddance to bad rubbish, or should I say farewell to David's favourite ever car.  
Discussion as to whether it's worth taking this badly damaged all that way when it looks like it's going to be written off....

I walked along to the famous Fish & Chip shop to meet David in the hire car heading off for Nantwich.  To the M&S Food Hall (Remember Reader David's favourite shop) to collect my online shop of flipflops, and sunhats mainly.  We tried them on in the car and I returned the unwanted bits immediately.
I caught up with David and the trolley, he was deep in conversation with a woman from Bunbury (Home of the famous locks)  I'm glad I arrived when I did because it sounded remarkably like he was receiving a proposal of marriage, I kid you not.  
I'll be asking him later just how that conversation started.

We filled the trolley with treats and some food, then headed back to Middlewich.  Now to find a good and safe location for the hire car for one night.  

We unloaded the shopping, then headed back to the pub, The Kings Lock Pub, right on the lock, no food being served but finally we get to enjoy the Fish and Chips, we were early but still a queue.

Early home, reading in the sun when it was a bit cooler.

Next morning we slipped away pretty early, but not before David had deposited the car into Overwater Marina when WaL will be having a little holiday.

After topping up with water before Big Lock, around the corner were the Middlewich Three Locks ably manned by the Jolly Team of volunteers we had encountered a few days before.  I walked forward to Wardle Lock on the Middlewich Arm, it was set for us by another volunteer, who had in the meantime moved a sailing boat from Anglesey to Ireland, a cat nap then caught the ferry back.   He used to do it, but had retired, but as the man was desperate he agreed.  He confessed that he had enjoyed it so much he would have done it for no money.

We did Wardle Lock and the next one, Stanthorpe Lock, then saw a lovely mooring, a tree and moored up.  The view was lovely, the tree imperative, just one or two other boats along.

Finally not to be waiting for other people, just to listen to the birds was marvellous.

Supper was prawn cocktail salad and one of those Magnums I brought yesterday.

Sun set on the canal a few nights ago.

The roses are magnificent this year.


Wednesday 21 June 2023

The Lift, salt and Bob

All this hanging about had been a right nuisance, had we not had to have hung around waiting for this car to be recovered, the car that we were both heartily sick of now, we just might have gone down onto the river Weaver.  But as things stood now we were a teeny weeny bit short of time.  So this am we walked along to the visitor centre of the Anderton Boat Lift and read all about it instead.

It was a tad chilly, the breeze swept up along the river right into the visitors centre, I dashed out when we though the lift was lowering, but its hard to see if anything is moving.  I took a few photos.

So this is it, we watched a narrow boat go ever so slowly into position within the structure.

We stood like lemons for a minute or two, I thought it had started lowering, David huffed.

Not a picturesque setting by any means, but it was very much a working part of the local industry.

 We went back inside with our fleeces zipped up to the neck.  I brought four ice-creams, the server was impressed by our hardiness, but they were for two days time when the weather was turning warmer, so much so the BBC had issued one of their weather warnings to be careful of the heat.  Right now I was frozen.

We walked back to WaL a short distance away, catching a glimpse of the Lift at the same level as ourselves where we could clearly see the narrowboat only now having the gate closed down behind him so it hadn't been moving at all.

David made coffee, I found my coat and then David turned WaL around and we departed southwards again.  A short distance away was a water point which we used.  While we were moored up NB Alton (I think it was that fuel boat, might have been Halsall, I can't remember) came into view.  
We had filled up on the Peak Forest Canal a few weeks back so were glad to repeat the exercise.
It was a lady helm of NB Alton (or Halsall), she said she knows where all the nice shower blocks are along her route and she is onboard for three straight weeks at a time with no running water.  Personally I think that is quite an undertaking but I was very glad to see her.  
She pulled away from us and went on her merry way, David finished up and set off in the same direction but we didn't see her again.

A short distance further along was the Lion Salt Works, right by where we had moored up yesterday to cycle to the museum.  We went into the Salt Works which is right on the canal side.

The attendant asked if we might be interested to have an introductory talk from Bob.
Very much so.  Bob turned out to be an retiree from the salt industry who had worked for ICI hereabouts.  
Such an interesting man,  really engaging about the subject.  Definitely worth a visit, the  works only closed in 1986, when you look around you'd be forgiven for thinking it closed in 1926 or even earlier.  Most unpleasant working condition's and dangerous too the poor workers endured for such a commonplace part of our everyday lives.

HERE for a wee film about the museum.

On this stretch of the canal you go around a bend then suddenly the canal goes right through the centre of a modern chemical plant.  Presumably it was the site of a salt works and the canal was used for transport.  It comes upon you suddenly form either the north or the south the viewer is unsighted by trees, then almost as quickly another bend and its gone from view  again.

Not crazy on this mooring, but, no neighbours either.


Clever, one leg.

Back on WaL we toddled off south towards Middlewich again.  I had requested that we might stop on one of several Flashes, so called as wide parts of the canal in places, but when we got to them one was busy with boats and another only had Mallard ducks on so we didn't bother instead we we arrived in time back at the outskirts of Middlewich at the other end of the very sunny moorings we had enjoyed only a day ago.  

The weather had improved all the way down and it was lovely to enjoy warm sun.

The car is still not collected. 

Monday 19 June 2023

Salt mines and collapses.

We were still waiting to get a phone call about collecting the wreck we needed to hand over the keys.  If they called they would have to wait now for our convenience. 

We decided to head north to the Anderton Boat Lift.  We could have gone on the River Weaver, we have been on it before several years ago, I quite liked it David less so.  We decided to stop on one of the "Flashes" that I somehow remembered to watch for birds on the way back if there was a space.

So we left the following morning.  David had found online somewhere about the Norwich Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse.    So its an Workhouse building or what is left of the original, most was demolished and it became an old peoples home, but now about life in Northwich with the discovery of salt, the Romans and how the river Weaver became so important to it all.

I leant masses.  Like salt was mined, I mean who knew?  I though they boiled salt water and scraped the residue.  Well salt production and all its related industries were a big employer, as were boat building on the Weaver and engineering. 

 Yes so mining, all around the area, but then the mines collapsed causing one or two slight irritations, like your house falling over.  I would have thought they might have abandoned the towns but no.  To find out how they did save the town you'll have to go.

Painted in 1806, but from the photo below you can just make out it is quite accurate.

I am quite glad I didn't have to go down a salt mine.  

We cycled down from Marston.  An easy bike ride or a 45 minute walk from the canal.
We whizzed back to Wal having really enjoyed looking at all aspects of Northwich and carried on towards Anderton.  Not many moorings left but we fitted in under some trees.

Supper was smoked salmon with horseradish, then cold salmon with asparagus then a fine dessert of chocolate and coffee.