Saturday 26 April 2008

20 Locks, Power Gone

Set off early this morning, Jill started walking the Dogs the first Mile and half to the start of the Audlem flight of 15 locks, all but three were against us, Jill had to work very hard, stopped for lunch after three hours of hard graft, I took pity on Jill and made her an omelette for lunch. During lunch rang boots the Chemist in Market Drayton to confirm they had received our prescriptions that had been faxed to them, the answer was in the afirmative so we made the decision to push on through the next 5 locks to Market Drayton. Half mile walk into the centre of Market Drayton and back saw the power Jill felt yesterday completeley removed from her and to add insult to injury I decided to move again onto the water point to fill up prior to yet another move further down the cut to find safe moorings for the Pussies. More importantly a good sat signal after all we've both been whoobies for as long as I can remember. Thats all folks even I'm Knackered.

Friday 25 April 2008

Traffic control

Moored up below Marbury lock having done 4 miles & 10 locks, but did stop for an excellent (and rather liesurely) lunch at Willeymoor Lock. Pushed on in the sunshine & did 11 miles, 2 lift bridges & 9 locks intending to moor as soon as we we were on the Shroppy main, but there is this dreadful lip, below the concrete sides, which means you can't get the back end on, try as we might, we couldn't moor 'til South of Nantwich. By which time it was chucking it down with rain. Best fun was had at Wrenbury where push button control operates the lift bridge controlling the road through the town. Stick your Waterways key in & listen to the warning sirens go, pull the stop barrier across the road & push the button to lift the bridge. All the traffic has to sit there and wait......power....loving it! 1 mile & 15 locks in the morning.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Dug out of trouble (not us) !

Adam posted a comment re the 48 hour mooring at Llangollen (thank you Adam, we love it when people post comments) re the planning for the basin was granted on the basis of 48 hrs & that one local resident loves reporting BW if anyone overstays. This I can appreciate (there is always one!), but we don't understand why we couldn't move on to the 48 hr canal side moorings. Never mind.

Moored up at Blake Mere last night; must be one of the most beautiful moorings ever, didn't want to mention it until we could download some photos but not having much luck in that department recently.
Held off, yesterday, waiting for the digger dredging to clear his barge, when a hire boat came charging round the blind bend behind us, ramming the bridge & running us aground. He carried on passed us & grounded himself between the digger & the bank. A lot of revving, jumping on & off and pushing ensued with absolutely zero effect. Eventually the digger driver, who couldn't continue dredging, had enough & shoved his bucket over their bow, oiked them off the bank & shoved them down the cut. We were in stitches & the boaters weren't at all indignant - only grateful, the digger driver looked studiously nonchalant. I'd have loved to see the look on Graham's face if he'd tried it on our paintwork!!!!!!!!!!
Moored above Grindley Brook staircase tonight having picked up gorgeous supplies from, "shop in a garden" above Platt Lane Bridge at lunch time - including home baked bread straight out of the oven. This more than compensated for the lost pub lunch due to the Waggonner Inn having burnt down in January.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Catch-up on the Llangollen

Apologies for our silence, but we have had more than a few network problems in the Welsh valleys - and those were not our only problems! to start with we started to attract things to MR that you wouldn't really expect. We have noticed that there have been about three drakes to each poor lady duck which has resulted in some not nice to watch scenes of sexual voracity; one duck in particular had had more than enough & decided to come through the boat window to escape her admirers. Then there were 6 nuns who,later, reappeared as pirates (no we had not been on the juice) then I wanted an early night so fetched cats in early; when I came out of the shower Graham said, "I thought the cats were in, but one has gone down the waterside gunnel" we were totally in the middle of no-where and it was a beautiful Burmese with collar, goodness knows how far it had come to visit. Then Daisy came home with a rabbit, much to the amusement of passing boaters & dog walkers; but best of all, we approached the start of the Pontcysylite Aqueduct and a man on the right was doing funny bouncing things, as we drew level he jumped on the back & off the other side - mentioning in passing that he was from New Zealand (as if that explained anything) and he had been warming up to jump the cut (each to his own). All these tales were surpassed by another boater-I retrieved Daisy from their boat with effusive apologies (she had remembered her manners & taken a mouse present), they were very good about it and said, "at least she didn't poo on the carpet". They then explained that they had previously had a goat jump on their boat which pooed all over their carpet.

Well, enough of all that, The LLangollen from Trevor up is like nothing else, narrow, winding, hire boats in all directions-most assuming that nothing will ever be coming the other way, panicing & pushing the tiller the wrong way when there is & forcing you to run aground-but, most of all, incredibly beautiful & well worth it. Don't even THINK about doing it in the peak season, but DO IT. Moored up in the new basin and walked into the gorgeous town & saw an advert for a Male voice choir in the 15thC church of St Collen's, we (well I) decided we'd like to go butn were vtold the tickets sold out 2 weeks before. Went into Jones the butcher to re-supply & Mrs Jones came in (stay with me here) to buy concert tickets to be told they were sold out, but Mr Jones said Mrs Jones had had to cancel & there were 4 tickets spare so Mrs Jones had 2 and Mr Jones sold us the other 2! The choir pulled the hairs on the back of my neck & the boy soprano moved me to tears &, at the end we all sang the Welsh National Anthem with gusto (but not a lot of finesse) and Jones the butcher & some of the choir invited us for a drink-not all the Welsh hate the English! Decided this morning to stay another night & walked the dogs up to Horseshoe Falls in the rain & hit the steamtrain in the afternoon & have dinner out this pm-hosed off dogs who were plastered in mud & then Muttley (for no apparent reason) decided to jump in the basin & couldn't climb out. 2 lasses, who were closer to him than me, got soaked oiking him out - you won't read this but thank you anyway! Mooring warden came past & I asked for another night's mooring to be told that it was strictly 48 hrs & we had toleave by 4pm. I said we would move onto the vacant lockside moorings but, no. Llangollen is 48 hrs. That's your lot cock! What a shame when there are empty moorings and the area has much to offer. Set off, disappointedly at 2pm with a long miserable journey in low cloud, rain & miniscule visibility back over the aquaduct to find new moorings for the night 4 hrs later (aaaahhhh - woe is me).
Can't download any pics at moment but will follow - look out for long eared owl!

Monday 14 April 2008

National 'Go Slow Weekend'

It has come to my notice that the National Association of Canal Boaters has decided to have a 'Go Slow Weekend', this is to be, apparently, a nationwide event where all concerned Canal enthusiasts are going to slow the traffic on our Inland Waterways to a pace where everyone can enjoy their boating. The dates have yet to be decided, but it will probably involve one of the busiest weekends of the boating calendar.
This sounds to me like a good idea, but it will probably mean that there are a few Hirers out on the cut who will end up late handing back their boats and having to pay an excess charge.
We joined the Langollen 2 days ago and so far have cruised to the Willeymoor Lock and Pub.
As the weather was published to be windy and miserable today we planned a Tesco's delivery and a session in the Pub at lunch time, I am just recovering from my post session NAP so please ignore any spelling mistakes and the poor grammer. And content.
Come back Jill all is forgiven.

Friday 11 April 2008

No move today, DIY instead

Looking at the weather forecast this morning we decided that we didn't want to get wet and we didn't want to be blown around, so we stayed just outside Middlewich. I decided it was time to do some urgently needed DIY, re-grout the shower and clear up the damp it was causing in my wardrobe.
Took dogs with me into Middlewich and found a DIY shop, on return Mutley, bless him, decided he wanted to try and have puppies with Bendedig's Husky Ben, he took exception. I don't blame him.
Also had another encounter from Sarah and Andy off NB Greyhound, update (sorry) they have 5 Greyhounds, two sleep in the saloon, two sleep by the bed, and one on the bed, but not the same one all night, musical dogs, I thought ours was bad with the cats.

Thursday 10 April 2008

Middlewich Branch of Shroppie

Having left Stoke and the Harecastle Tunnel, the scenery changed drastically into beautiful rolling countryside, yesterday we surpassed ourselves 13 locks and 4 miles and today we went supersonic 14 locks and 5 1/2 miles. We are either getting fitter or our new locking proceedures are working better for us, I think the latter. Althought at one lock I got of the boat having brought it to a halt with reverse, and instead of Jill jumping straight on, we ended up chatting, I didn't take the boat out of gear and as we were talking 'MR' was gailey trogging backwards out of the lock. Met a couple on a boat called 'Greyhound' at the middlewich junction who recognised the boat and told us she was following this Blog, she later walked passed us with three Greyhounds, althought turned rapidly back towards her boat when she saw Jill was out with daisy. Thank you.
Got chatting to a single hander(Mr TOD) at the middlewich turn, who told us about the Fish and Chip shop, his description of their very tasty fare persuaded me to hold up for half an hour, he wasn't wrong it was the best Fish and Chips that I personally have eaten ever. Also saved on the washing-up(even better).
Jill has said that she would like to have a day of rest sometime over the next two days, I had a look at the map and it would seem that there is not a Pub on this branch so it would be a waste to have a day off to get over a hangover that will not occur. perhaps a good thing. Hopefully Jill will get back to the blog tomorrow and sense will be resumed.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Harecastle Tunnel

Moored up in Barlaston village on Sat evening as very strong winds forecast for Sunday. Woke up Sunday am to 4" of snow - sorry, no photos as it had melted by the time the photographer got out of bed! Re-stocked at local butchers & excellent canal side Londis shop (wine cellar had gone critical) & the forecast winds never materialised, but got fed up with the constant foot traffic going past the boat so eventually moved half a mile up out of the village. Got up at 6.30 and set off at 8.00 to push through Stoke & moored up below Harecastle Tunnel at Westport Lake-beautiful spot and the dogs loved haring up and down the banks and chasing the ducks into the water (I take it this hasn't been banned....yet). Not,however, so good for the cats as it was too exposed (no ground cover) and masses of walkers, dogs, joggers & cyclists; so Daisy decided to take her evening exercise by running round & round the gunnels. By the time we'd finished our meal we realised we hadn't seen her go past the window for some time so I called her & she didn,t come. Full scale search of the area - no Daisy & a heart attack each later found her asleep under the desk in the office. She'd got so fed up with not being able to hunt that she had an early night! Today we came through the tunnel which was very spooky. Graham had a big torch on the back which packed up before we were halfway through, making it quite difficult to see the "duck or grouse" warnings on the roof. Took about half an hour and then we started descending down the aptly nicknamed," Heartbreak Hill". Did the first 6 of 27 today, mooring up by the pretty little church at Church Lawton. I opened the front paddle at one lock today and this geyser of freezing water shot up from the ground and dumped itself on my head! I think, tomorrow, we'll have to alternate & do 3 or 4 locks each else we'll never get through this -6 is about my limit bearing in mind I also walk the dogs a few miles.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Senior Moments

Yesterday I set off down the towing path with the 2 dogs towards the first lock before Stone - tied them up & sorted it and headed off towards the day's mission of 2 flights of 4 (we always shut cats & dogs in at locks as they cannot be trusted to ,"sit & stay" when I cross to the far gate). Somewhere towards the end of the 1st flight I came across a pair of gates that did NOT want to shift. I hurled my entire body weight (probably a marginal 7 stone by now) at it for a good 10 mins whilst watched by a couple at a canalside pub, sat outside. These are all deep locks and I persevered until it was closed, refusing to let Graham come off the roof & up the ladder - the surgeon who did his knee replacement would be very unamused-by this time I was too kn... & couldn't shift the other, eventually, aforementioned beer drinker got off bum & helped me!Graham wanted to swap over & do the next flight, but by then it had stopped raining & it was really nice in the sun & I was getting into a rythm &, perversely, getting a kick out of the physical exercise. Hopped over a wall, down the road, back over the wall (due to towpath closure) & happily away with the fairies to discover another tiny female (1st day ever on hireboat) struggling furiously with, yet another, pair of recalcitrant gates & still smarting at the pub blokes lack of courtesy, threw myself into helping her into closing the gates, waved her on her grateful way to see Matilda Rose approaching closed gates!!!!!!! Derhhh!!!!Really must stop enjoying the countryside & conversation & start concentrating a little more on what I'm doing.

Friday 4 April 2008

Unusual Sights

4th April-had Linda & David from NB Critical Point round for drinks last night, which was our 1st spontaneous "entertaining" of friends met and made along the cut. En route up through Hayward junction yesterday, Graham decided to have another change in our sign language communications system. We started off with him pointing in the direction he wanted me to point the boat, then changed it to which direction he wanted me to point the tiller (a much better system-as, in times of stress, you're less likely to inadvertently go the wrong way) he didn't, however, bother to inform me that he'd changed the system! Yesterday he surpassed himself-he pointed; Ipointed tiller in the same direction; he shouted, "other way". now I'm a pretty placid person so I enquired if we had changed the system back, "no he said, you're going backwards so I'm pointing in the direction I want the swan neck to point". I thought about this for a while & looked about for large white feathered creatures wondering how I was expected to catch & control them (as well as the boat) without getting bitten - it was all too much for me so I walked the dogs up the towpath & did a lock or 3. later in the day I discovered an article in Waterways World about reversing (which he had read) saying point the swans neck (curvy bit on tiller) in the direction you want to go. With time & patience all (usually) becomes clear...well, clearish. Failed to get through Stone today largely due to having another really good lunch in the Saracens Head at Weston fantastic food and glorious armchairs! By the time we came out we were 4th in a cue of boats all going up & the locks are deep, so did 1 more & called it a day at 4.30. Daren't get stuck in Stone 'cause of the cats. One more question I'd like answered why is it the heaviest lock gates are the ones that come open again?

Tuesday 1 April 2008

April fool's day

Moored up opposite an airfield between Huddlesford and Fradley-the windsock is parallel to the ground! Stuck my head out the side hatch just in time to see a hire boat career into us as they lost it in the wind. A boat moored just above us has spent most of the morning trying to get off the bank, with the only result being marital dis-harmony. Fascinating body language! Another boat bounced off both sides of the bridge behind us. It's certainly April fool's. We're off up the pub, but praying we don't come back to find a hole in our side!

Excellent lunch at the Plough-fabulous menu & good company having met up with an old friend. Came back to the boat in time to see another NB in front of us rammed by another cruiser. NBs are lethal weapons in high, gusting winds, why do people try to cruise in this - no matter how much you need to be somewhere it surely isn't worth the risk.

Muttley decided to be a proper boat dog yesterday & started running round the roof whilst we were cruising, he thought that was great fun, but I was having kittens in case we went under a low bridge - I mean, how do they know when to duck, especially if they're looking the other way? I asked that question of an experienced boater today and wasn't much pacified by the answer, "scoop 'em out and get them to the vets to have their heads stitched up-all mine have scars on their heads". Not quite what I wanted to hear!