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...........

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Christmas shopping is done and dusted.

From the moorings by The Lock Keeper pub (Was the Frog and Nightingale, been tarted up, not tried it yet) the quickest way into town is via Kaleyards Gate, now we have gone that way many times in the past and somehow never noticed

this pigeon loft, or dovecot if you're posh, and the notice on it.

It seems that if you wish to feed pigeons in Chester you should come here to do so, I have news for Cheshire West & Chester council, it doesn't happen.
So we wandered off into the city and commenced to shop, an occupation abhorred by both of us but, apart from some gift vouchers, we obtained all the seasonal gifts that we are expected to provide. We also bought, for ourselves, several books, a selection of fleeces and a new t-mobile dongle, faster than the old one and about a third the monthly cost, seems to be working ok. Actually we didn't buy the dongle, it came free with a new contract, can't see the drawback, yet.

This is just to prove that Chester is getting Christmas organised.
Why do we still call it Christmas when what is celebrated now is much closer to the old pagan festival of Yule? The majority of people in Britain never set foot in a church but still celebrate the supposedly christian festival, any excuse for a knees up. It's a fact that more incidents of domestic violence occour over Christmas than any other time of year, people are suddenly thrown together for several days with only The Great Escape and The Wizard of Oz on the telly so, I presume, thumping each other seems a viable alternative. Of course lawyers love it, all those nice expensive divorce cases in the new year.
Who are you calling cynical?
Bah, Humbug!

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

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Problems with water points.

Since my last post we have wandered down to Chester (again). We topped up the store cupboard at Nantwich, stopped overnight at Calveley and then had a day at one of our all time favourite mooring spots.

Just above Whartons Lock, below Beeston Castle perched on it's rocky outcrop. It is totally rural, at night there is only one light visible from the boat, that's from a BIG house up on the offside of the cut.

It really looks and feels like autumn has arrived.
Today we set off for Chester intending to water at Christleton, well the water point is still there, tucked in by the bridge abutment, unfortunately the bank, never too stable there, has collapsed totally into the cut so there is no way you can get at the water. Glad there is a water point by Chemistry Lock, even though there were two boats moored on it, we breasted up on them and watered, I do love considerate people, I left them a little note thanking them for making life just that bit more interesting.

The water tower appears to be having some work done on it, wonderful bit of scaffolding.
Guess who had beaten us to Chester:

Yes, Santa is already here, oh whoopee!
We arrived just nicely timed to get lunch in The Old Harkers Arms, twelve real ales and some of the best pub grub we've found, pricey but delicious and plentiful, I had the beef, stilton and port suet pudding and Jill had a steak with tarragon butter and all the trimmings. Slept all afternoon.
Saddened to hear that the Red Lion at Cropredy had closed down, was always one of our regular haunts when on the Oxford.
Christmas shopping tomorrow.

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

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Around and about Coole Pilate.

My dear lady suggested lunch out yesterday so we walked back to Audlem and tried The Bridge, now under new management after a period when it really went down hill. It is a Marstons pub and the menu was bog standard company fare but the gammon I had was top notch and Jill says the steak and ale pie is spot on. Plus the bitter was in excellent condition. We'll put it back on the acceptable list. We also had a pudding apiece so the walk back to Coole Pilate was a bit of a struggle.

As we still have the place to ourselves we thought that another day here wouldn't upset anyone. There were another three boats here overnight but by the time we were up and about they had headed off for places unknown.
We went off for a walk around the lanes:
Coole Pilate itself seems to consist of some scattered farms and associated cottages and this attractive little United Methodist Free Church, now converted to domestic use.
Of course the major site around here is the Secret Nuclear Bunker

which appeared to be up for a change of status, anyone fancy a bomb proof abode? Closer inspection revealed that the for sale sign actually applied to a couple of barn conversions and also up for grabs was the Hack Green Maggot Farm, must be a real problem, rounding up the little wrigglers.

Someone seems to have a thing about Land Rovers, there must be at least one of every model they have made, all in varying stages of decay, it takes all kinds..........
Lastly, large and strange fungus growing on some old wood chippings,

could it be Peziza vesiculosa?

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

Monday, 7 November 2011

Mist, Audlem and "The Slow Train".

Sunday morning brought our first taste of cold, I peered out of the window at 0700 and lo! The world was white,

at least that part of it which could be seen was white.
I walked the dog towards the bottom of the locks, I could hear the by-wash splashing but it was a while before the gates loomed out of the mist.

By now the old dog decided that enough was enough and headed boatwards at her best speed so I followed her, it was warmer on board.
By the time the compulsory Sunday morning fry-up had been consumed the mist had cleared and the sun was well up so we set off northwards towards Audlem. As usual the by-washes were giving it some.

But the sun shone, there was no wind and we sauntered down the fifteen seeing only two boats coming up and one ahead of us, November is definitely a quiet time on the canals.

Lock 12, the one above the village pound, that's Jill on the right by the balance beam, the one thing the flight wasn't lacking was gongoozlers, we had an audience at every lock, sometimes getting under our feet and on a couple of occasions borrowing a windlass and giving a helping hand. It's a great way of meeting people.

We stopped at the waterpoint by the Shroppie Fly, a real canalscape, a pub that was a warehouse, a craft shop that used to be a mill and a crane that came from the local railway goods yard, it's very popular though.
The crane reminded me of that wonderful song by Flanders and Swann that lamented the closure of so many cross country rail lines under the dead hand of that arch villain Beeching, one verse ran:

The sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate.
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay.
No one departs, no one arrives
From Selby to Goole, St. Erth to St. Ives.
They've all passed put of our lives,
On the slow train, on the slow train.

If anyone wants to hear the full song it's on You Tube. Brings a tear to my rheumy old eye.

Putting nostalgia aside, we were soon down the bottom of the flight and we are now moored at Coole Pilate with the place to ourselves, Jill is cooking a fresh tomato soup and cross stitching Christmas cards, she is one amazing lady.
Having nothing better to do I'm mucking about on the laptop, hence this post and the verse from "The Slow Train".

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