Thursday, 29 December 2011

A spread of subjects, including a treatise on Man 'Flu.

It has been ages since I managed a post, mostly because we have been loafing around the High Offley/Norbury Junction area, I think they must still use smoke signals around here because there is no mobile 'phone signal. Even by hoisting my dongle up on a pole until it was six foot above the boat produced nothing. So here's a quick resume of our doings.

After shopping at M.D. it was off up the Tyrley flight on a fine sunny morning, as we arrived at the top lock fellow blogger Jandai was just coming out and I must apologise because I didn't realise who it was until Jill brought the boat into the lock and told me.
Then into Woodseaves cutting, a far different place to the green dingle alive with birdsong that it is in summer.

The only thing that doesn't change

is the depth of mud on the towpath.
We stopped at The Anchor for the weekend and then meandered down to Norbury Junction where we had arranged a hire car for a couple of days so we could get to a supermarket for our final stock up for Christmas.
We also took the opportunity to nip into Newport, the nearest town, which we had never visited.

Newport church, Butter Cross and almond tree in bloom. Not a lot else except a Waitrose. Being cheapskates we did our shopping at Tescos in Stafford.
We also nipped off to have a look at a church we have passed several times by road, near the M54.

It's in a village called Tong and is amazing, not like your average village church at all.

It had several highly carved tombs,

a side chapel with this chap presiding, just look at that ceiling!

The Choir Stalls are wonderful, carving at it's best, I don't have a date for them but

Simon Wood seems to have carved his name into the wood in 165? This makes it the oldest bit of graffiti we've yet found. A bored choir boy?, it appears to be surrounded by a bishops mitre, a bored bishop? who knows.

On the back of one of the nobs tombs, R.D. seems to have been a prolific graffitieer in 1752.

He wasn't alone. I love these old scratchings, they bring you closer to the people than a thousand preserved castles.
Well, having stocked the food cupboard, returned the car and been ready to settle down for the holiday the oven chose that moment to go belly up. After frantic 'phone calls, much searching of t'internet and one or two turns of purple language Simon, of Norbury Wharf, located a suitable replacement. Needless to say the one we had was no longer in production. It was delivered on the Thursday and Mick fitted it on Friday morning, hows that for service? Chrissie dinner was rescued.
Back to The Anchor, we settled in and Friday night had an evening down the pub. Christmas Eve I started coughing, Christmas Day I was in the grips of a savage attack of man 'flu. Boxing Day the same and it is only now that I am returning to my normal happy go lucky self.
Here is my cough cure:
Take a half pint glass, put in it the juice of one lemon, two teaspoons of honey, two teaspoons of glycerin,(Make sure it is medicinal glycerin, it it has the word nitro on the pack reject it, it has a totally different effect),
and some rum. Top up with boiling water, add more rum to taste. Drink it good and hot. Trust me, it works.
 There are many misconceptions about man 'flu, the ladies, bless them, use it as a derogatory term, they do not realise the medical facts about it. When a woman contracts a rhino-virus or an influenza virus it is bathed in a gentle wash of oestrogen and is inclined to sit around chatting about handbags and The X-Factor and occasionally feeling duty bound to gently tickle a nearby mucus membrane. However, when us chaps are attacked by these organisms they are immediately immersed in testosterone and become huge monsters with shaven heads and Doc Martin's, covered in tattoos, wandering around in gangs shouting "Here's a mucus membrane, let's give it a right kicking" and so, alas, we males suffer so much more. However in our usual stoical way we accept this and carry on with ne'er a moan.
We are in Gnosall at the moment, our daughter Cairstine came up for the day with her other half and their offspring. They brought up our pressies, I got a bottle of 1919 Angostura rum, perfect nectar, it will not be going in the cough cure. We had lunch in The Navigation and caught up on the news. A lovely day.
Tomorrow it's back to The Anchor for New Year, now there's a surprise. This does mean that we will be incommunicado again for a while, I hope you don't miss us too much.


Watch this space..............

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Can't think of a title.

The weather did just about permit, on Sunday we came up the Audlem flight in a mixture of pouring rain and light rain. It was not the most pleasant transit but we stopped at Adderley, stoked up the stove and watched the UK snooker final, won by Jud Trump, and a good final it was.
Yesterday we came up the Adderley flight and were surprised to find, in the second pound,

a dredger busily at work, chatting to the lads I found they are working all the way down to the Shroppie Fly, so you see, dredging does happen. Needless to say we stopped at the farm shop at the top of the flight, you should see the size of the Barnsley Chops we bought, and then on to Market Drayton.
Today Jill finished off the Christmas cards.

After finishing the cross stitching they were washed, here are some of them drying, and then attached to the cards. Bless her, she then wrote and addressed them all, what a star.
We want to be up at The Anchor for Sunday but the weather forecast does not look good.

Watch this space.................

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Water pumps, ice and junctions.

Having survived the gale we set off yesterday along the Middlewich Arm, it's a lovely stretch going through perfect English farmland but is not that photogenic,

somehow views of fields just don't come off that well so we took photo's of the only two outstanding structures,

the old stables, now a des. res. and

the house with the Dutch Gables, just what everyone takes photo's of.
Having moored overnight above Cholmondeston (Does anyone know how that is pronounced?) lock, this morning I bounded out of bed with a merry cry to greet the day as is my wont and then discovered that the water pump had gone belly up and we were getting nothing through the taps, that put the dampers on it. It is lucky that I am a belt and braces man, out came the spare water pump and on it went. As I removed the old one a mixture of water and grease ran out of the body, I think that could have something to do with its demise. Jill then gave me egg and bacon as a reward for not sulking, only swearing a little and actually getting the new pump working.

As we headed to Barbridge Junction we found the first ice of the winter, only a bit of cat ice but, oh well, this time last year we had been iced in for three weeks.

Barbridge junction under a winter sky and then

Hurleston, B.W. have removed the " Canal Closed" sign on the bottom gates so I assume the Llangollen is now open after the stoppages.
At Nantwich we passed Go For It, another blogger, just time for a quick "Hi" and on we went. I think it's a first for us, through Nantwich without stopping.

Hack Green Locks, I know I always take the mick out of the secret bunker but they also have some old stables and

a large chunk of masonry that was obviously part of the lock gate fittings.
Coole Pilate tonight, on through Audlem tomorrow, weather permitting.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Blow blow thou winter wind.

Well that was close, yesterday we set off from Middlewich and as we came up the bottom lock there was a B.W. workboat coming down the middle lock, they were on their way to shut big lock as the blocked top paddle needed more work doing on it than had previously been thought and they were draining the cut as far as Croxton aqueduct. Apparently they feel the need to inspect the bed of the canal, for what they did not divulge.
Thanks for the warning Alf but we have slipped through in time.
"Blow blow thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as mans ingratitude," well that was Shakespeare's opinion,

Jill might not have agreed as we worked through Stanthorne lock in a howling gale with hailstones coming in horizontal.
Today we are sitting in the lee of a hedge whilst the promised weather batters us, there is no way we are moving. Snooker on the red button from 1230 so that will be us settled, unless the wind blows the satellite dish off the roof.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Mostly weather, not much excitement.

Well winter seems to have arrived at last, we're still in the Middlewich area but intend heading back to the Shroppie on Thursday.

Last Friday we headed out on the T&M, Croxton Flash seemed to be home base for a number of Canada geese, I wonder what they taste like? The number of them that are infesting the canals they surely wouldn't miss a few.
We moored above the valley of the River Dane,

It winds through the fields

and here there seems to be the remains of a weir, can't see any reason for it at this point on the river but there is definitely a masonry lip between the far bank and the little islet. One more little mystery that probably has a totally mundane explanation, if only I knew what it was.
Today it was back to Middlewich, as we watered below Big Lock the weather decided to add a little entertainment to the day,

up came the clouds and down came the sleet, it made life just a little more interesting.

Top up the victualling cupboard tomorrow and then off.
Struggling for anything of interest today but at least there is snooker on the telly this week.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Having a couple of days on the moorings above Winsford Top Flash.

On one side you have a view over the flash

and on the other the main line, sorry it's only a Pendolino, a minute later an old H.S.T. 125 in an amazing yellow livery went through but by then I'd stowed the camera away.
This morning we went off up the towpath for a leg stretch,

more autumn colours and lots of

fungi, unfortunately the camera didn't pick up the brilliant mauve of this one, I  think it could be a Wood Blewitt, Lepista Nuda.

and could this be The Miller, Clitopilus Prunulus? Both of those are edible, am I going to eat them? Not a hope, unless it has the name of a well known supermarket on the package there is no way they will pass my lips.
I should like to add an acknowledgement to the Collins Gem Guide to Mushrooms and Toadstools, my sole source of knowledge of  things fungal, apart from athletes foot that is.

No idea what this is though, can't find it in my little book.

Watch this space.............

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

BLUE mesh, the future?

First the good news, I remembered which particular bramble patch my lure was hanging in so yesterday when we set off through the murk I retrieved it.

This is Beeston Castle in the murk.
I have just realised that I described myself as an inefficient pike fisherman, I did of course mean incompetent, sorry for that.

With all that width of water you would think there would be at least one pike interested.
We headed onwards

through the two Beeston locks, above the stone lock there is one of the odd little circular lengthsmans huts but the most important thing here is

blue warning mesh. Is this the future with C.A.R.T? A complete break with B.W? I can hardly wait.
We turned off onto the Middlewich Arm and moored above Cholmondeston lock and as we are now in winter routine, killing time basically, we spent the day here. A wander down to the junk antique shop at Venetian Marine was a highlight, lots of badly battered furniture at ludicrous prices, definitely not Antiques Road Show fodder.
Then this evening a rather spectacular sunset,

get a load of the reflection in the cabin side, honestly, Armadillo is not that shiny but I do like the photo'.

Watch this space...........

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Pike fishing, huh!

Out of Chester yesterday, those five locks coming up are real stinkers, no matter how careful you are with the paddles, no matter in which order you open them you will get blown all about the chamber, each one seems to shoot the water in from a different angle and to add a little variety the bottom lock has one ground and one gate paddle. At least we could get on the waterpoint on the way up as one of the boats had gone.
We moored at Tattenhall and are aiming for at least a couple of days here. I dusted off my pike tackle this morning, sorted out the lures and set off for a spot of predator fishing. At least I only lost one lure, left hanging in the brambles on the off side after an overenthusiastic cast. Never had a sniff at a fish, I appear to be the most inefficient pike angler ever, just the occasional toothy fellah would be more than welcome. Perserverance will pay off, eventually.

Watch this space...........

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A circumnavigation of Chester's walls and some disappointing Christmas lights.

In all the times we have been to Chester we had never actually walked all the way around the walls in one go so today, after the usual visit to Tescos to top up the store cupboard, we set off.

Kaleyards Gate, so called because in the 13th C. the monks from the abbey knocked a hole in the wall so they could get to their vegetable gardens which were outside. Kale = cabbage. Every night at 2100 the cathedral rings the curfew bell and dutifully locks the gate, as none of the other town gates have been closed at night since medieval times it seems a bit pointless,

but tradition demands it will happen and of course it does.

King Charle's tower, so called as the eponymous king watched, from this tower, the parliamentarians give his lads a bit of a duffing up at the battle of Rowton Moor, 24th September 1645.
The Chester Canal runs alongside this stretch of wall,

the canal builders used the old town ditch as their starting point and simply enlarged it.

Jill emerges from Pembertons Parlour, a medieval tower much knocked about in the Civil War and rebuilt by John Pemberton, mayor of Chester at some time in Queen Anne's reign, he used it to keep an eye on the workers in his ropewalk below the walls, R.H.I.P.

Bonewaldesthorne's Tower, I only put this in because of the name. If the enemy attacked here, by the time you'd shouted a warning as to where the attack was it would be all over.

The Roodee Racecourse,

I thought they raced horses here, I was obviously misinformed.
As you walk on you pass

the remains of Chester Castle,

the Old Dee Bridge and

Chester Weir, built about 1087 and the oldest mill dam in Britain, at one time it powered eleven waterwheels.
Much to my surprise as it approached lunch time we happened upon

The Albion, a favourite hostelry of ours,

with its wonderfully atmospheric interior and a sign outside announcing "This pub is not child friendly, no one under eighteen allowed", music to a curmudgeons ears.
Suitably refreshed we proceeded onward, passing the Roman amphitheatre,

then walking under the clock on Eastgate which celebrates Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee and on to

the cathedral, which brought us back to Kaleyards Gate. It made a most pleasant walk in autumnal sunshine.
This evening we ventured forth to see the Christmas lights,

 they were not exactly awe inspiring although

this, outside the cathedral was quite attractive, I have no idea what it is meant to represent but it was different.
Tomorrow we shake the dust of Chester from our feet and set of for.......

Watch this space...........