Monday, 31 October 2011

Horror at the Anchor.

We've had to wend our way back to Market Drayton as the nice new top plate I had made earlier this year has cracked, I hate dentists.
Saturday night found us at The Anchor (again), it took a brave man to brave the horrors of the garden,

yes, it was their Halloween party.
Fancy dress was the order of the day.

Kim and Elaine were bewitching behind the bar.

Maggie was looking cheerful but Duck Dave

appeared to be contemplating the true gloominess of the season.
Soon a fine collection of ghouls, ghosts, witches and monsters were joining the clientele.

I'm not sure what was going on here

but it looks like ectoplasm.
But as this was The Anchor it wasn't long before the instruments came out

and the music

Behind all this, quietly making sure everything was perfect was our revered landlady,

the wonderful Olive.
It was all too soon that last orders was called and we all made our way home, most to our boats but some, perhaps, back to the crypt.
Just for information, The Anchor is now on its winter opening hours, weekends only.
Yesterday we moved down to Goldstone Wharf and just next to the bridge was  a group of fly agaric,

not a sign of a gnome though, perhaps they had been partying last night.
We have no definite plans for the winter.

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

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Llamas, straw and a little sunflower.

It's amazing, the things you find as you wander around the English countryside. We strolled out from Little Onn bridge yesterday, along the towpath and then up onto the lane at Rye Hill Bridge, just by the rather nice house with the gardens coming down to the cut, and in the field by the house were four llamas.

They refused to get together so I could get them all in the same photo' but one

did come over to check on who was passing, he seems to be amused by the sight of us.

Number four decided that striking a noble pose would impress us, I didn't like to disillusion him.

The lane runs alongside a disused wartime airfield, the old perimeter track is clearly visible. It is all now part of a farm which has the biggest stock of straw I have seen.

 Miles of it.
Back by the boat we spotted this growing right on the edge of the towpath.

It is definitely a sunflower but only about eighteen inches tall, I reckon someone must have emptied their parrots feed bowl and one seed survived but Jill thinks it is an escapee from a roof top flower tub. We do lead an exciting life, we worry about the provenance of a undersize sunflower. Oh dear.

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

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Weather forecasts and art criticism.

Out of the clutches of Norbury Wharf at last. That is very unkind as they have been brilliant, we now have six domestic batteries, a new fridge and a beautifully blacked bottom, not to mention the fact that I can now remove the batteries without dismantling the entire back end of the boat!
We have decided to spend the winter around here for a change as, according to Waterscape, there are no stoppages booked for the Shroppie this winter although looking at some of the long range weather forecasts nature could be providing her own stoppages, ice, snow and probably a plague of locusts to round it off. The best comment I saw on any of the weather websites was along the lines of "This is Britain, we'll get what we get and anyone who tries to forecast more than a day ahead is just dreaming".
We're having a quiet few days out in the wilds,

The countryside along the Shroppie is pure England at its best. Until we moved onto the boat, as far as I knew, Staffordshire was completely covered in potteries and all I knew about Shropshire was that the correct abbreviation was Salop. Now it feels like home and I love it.

An abundance of berries this year, is this a sign of a hard winter? Probably as reliable as some of the forecasts. They won't last long, the redwings and fieldfares have arrived and are already tucking in. We now have our share of the autumn harvest, two and a half litres of gin are now warmly wrapped around sloes and turning that lovely shade of purple, it'll be ready for Christmas.
I suppose that will be the next thing, Christmas shopping, oh joy. Rather foolishly I mentioned that we could do a trip to Chester, it was immediately jumped on as a good scheme so it looks like we'll be heading back that way soon.

Place to be!
And finally, rural Staffordshire's answer to the Turner Prize.

Welded to a farm gate, it has more artistic integrity than a lot of modern sculpture. (I got that phrase from the Weekend Telegraph arts supplement. Plagiarism? what's that then?)

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

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Wrekin and a Bear.

As you go down the A518 towards Telford you come across these on one of the roundabouts, it has to be the most extreme road safety initiative ever, my driving improved 100% until I was out of range.
We passed them yesterday on our way to The Wrekin, we thought a gentle stroll up the hill would be a pleasant way to pass an hour or two. Wrong, it was a mind boggling trek up what felt like a vertical mountain.

View from the top with remains of iron age roundhouse in the foreground.

A rather windswept Jill by the triangulation point on top, I was collapsed, gasping for breath like a stranded haddock. By the time we got back down I don't think either of us had a leg joint that wasn't screaming. One of the problems with living on the cut is that walking up hill is a rarity, climbing up The Wrekin was a bad mistake. Make a note, must get fat fit.
Today we went to the R.A.F. museum at Cosforth, unfortunately the warplanes hanger was shut but it was interesting, they had a model of an old friend,

a Tupolev Tu-95 Bear,  when I was in the R.N. everytime we went up the North Sea or round the north of Scotland one of these would turn up as escort, we were actually rather fond of them, made us feel needed.
Merlin just starting on the telly so that's all for now.

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

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Blists Hill and the most amazing fire extinguisher ever.

This morning we had a quick look at Armadillo with her nice clean bottom.

Looks like a bad case of measles but there is no pitting at all, pleased with that. Closer inspection though showed that

the anodes were well past their sell by date. No wonder boatyard owners all drive big cars.
After getting in everybody's way we trundled off for a day at Blists Hill Victorian Village, part of the Ironbridge Gorge museum complex.

The remains of the 19thC. blast furnaces are the centrepiece around which they have recreated a complete village

with all the shops and work shops that were there in Victorian times.

If you went through the dry dock at Norbury Junction, followed the  derelict canal past Newport and carried on down the old tub boat canal this is where you would end up, next to Blist Hill Mine.

Of all the exhibits this was definitely my favourite, do you reckon it would be acceptable for the B.S.C?

Finally, don't you just love steam? It has a sound and a smell that is all its own.
Tomorrow we'll have to find somewhere else to visit.

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

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Armadillo gets her lower bits dry.

After our time in the wilderness we are now at Norbury Junction with the luxury of Wi-Fi because, while Armadillo is in dock having her nether regions re-coated we are living a sybaritic life in the holiday cottage by the boatyard.
This morning we shifted the boat from the forty eight hour moorings

and up the arm to the dry dock. The dock was originally the first lock down to the Newport branch that led to the Shrewsbury Canal, long closed but with an active restoration society, or two. Nice scheme, don't hold your breath waiting for a trip on it.
Once in the dock it didn't take long before the stop planks were in place,

the dock was being drained and the lads were manoeuvring her onto the blocks.

  From the side of the dock the blacking didn't look too bad and I was surprised how little the anodes had eroded.

Considering that they have been on there for five years they are in remarkably good nick.

So there she sits, awaiting the gentle ministrations of the power washer and the first of three coats of comastic.
As we have a hire car for the week we intend making the most of the time by exploring some of the area.

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

Thursday, 6 October 2011

It's all a bit draughty.

As we are now making for Norbury Junction for our bottom blacking we thought it was necessary to keep moving. Yesterday we set off in what seemed to be a howling gale, probably only a stiff breeze but one has to dramatise these events, aiming for Adderley. This meant we had to climb the fifteen locks at Audlem, luckily we were sheltered from the worst of the wind on the way up and there were plenty of boats coming down which meant we just had to nip out of one lock and into the next with a quick wave to the steerer on the boat we were crossing. Mind you one time share and one hire boat seemed intent on proving you can't get a boat into a lock sideways. All was well until we came out of the top lock when the wind caught us and pinned us to the towpath, we managed to get free and battled our way down to the Adderley moorings.

This is a buzzard being mobbed by rooks just over the moorings, why the buzzard doesn't turn round and give them a swift look at his talons I don't know but they always run away, perhaps rooks don't taste that good.
Today we moved on to Market Drayton and again it was a tad draughty. Right now not only is it blowing but it is chucking it down as well.
Tomorrow it's up Tyrley locks and then it's a 3G desert, no signal, and then into the dry dock at Norbury so it may be a day or two before I can put out another post.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Nantwich and back.

Yesterday we zoomed down to Nantwich, just to top up the larder.

This is a view at Hack Green locks, looking back at the secret nuclear bunker, nature seems to be highlighting it but let's stick with the secret illusion.

View of the River Weaver in the park at Nantwich, just to prove we went there.
This morning we set off early down to the sanitary station for water and a pump out with our d.i.y. poo pump. It's been a good investment, we're now in profit, having saved more in the cost of pump outs than we payed for the pump. This morning though it decided to develop an air lock which led to a rather smelly interlude, enough said.
We then winded and headed back up to Coole Pilate and found a rather different scene from the weekend,

Not a boat in sight.
One of the purchases we made at Nantwich was some new Kilner jars for the production of our favourite Sloe Gin, our old jars had suffered a sad demise, presumably from a less than gentle connection with a mooring/lock wall/bridge hole; anyway they were in bits in the back of the wardrobe. Luckily we found some new ones and

our first batch of sloes are now steeping in the finest gin. Alright it's actually Morrisons Value Mothers Ruin but the end product is just as good.

By dusk we had been joined by another couple of boats and a half moon was playing hide and seek with the clouds.

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

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Florida, (Part three) The final mention.

Just a few more images from Florida and then I'll leave off and get back to the humdrum existence of an old curmudgeon and his lovely wife.

The current Blues Brothers at Universal Studios, just about my all time favourite film.

I don't think you can catch these round here, not on sweetcorn anyway.
I know it's not politically correct but we do love Seaworld,

with it's high flying dolphins and

very splashy killer whales. The trainers don't get in the pool with them anymore since one of them decided to make a snack of its trainer. Sitting in the front few rows ensures a thorough soaking, needless to say Noah and Jonah insisted that was where we sat, it doesn't take long to dry off in the heat.
At Busch Gardens Noah was delighted when he had a chance to feed the lories

even though he was not at all sure about the size of their beaks.
That was our last day and having decided on a final blow out at Mannys Chop House,( best steaks I've ever had), we got stuck in a traffic jam on I4 for four and a half hours and ended up with Burger King, as the poet said "The best laid plans of mice and men".

Final view, the cars and villa, couldn't fault either.
And that was Florida, as everybody is probably totally fed up with it now I promise there will be no further mention so

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