Monday, 30 January 2012

A Song of the Weather.

Does anyone remember Flanders and Swann? I picked up on one of their songs the other day and managed to find the lyrics on line. How our weather doesn't change.

January brings the snow,
Makes your feet and fingers glow.

February's ice and sleet,
Freeze the toes right off your feet.

Welcome, March, with wint'ry wind,
Would thou weren't not so unkind.

April brings the sweet spring showers,
On and on for hours and hours.

Farmers fear unkindly May,
Frost by night and hail by day.

June just rains and never stops,
Thirty days and spoils the crops.

In July the sun is hot,
Is it shining?
No it's not.

August, cold and dank and wet,
Brings more rain than any yet.

Bleak September's mist and mud,
Is enough to freeze the blood.

Then October adds a gale,
Wind and slush and rain and hail.

Dark November brings the fog,
Shouldn't happen to a dog.

Freezing wet December, then,
Bloody January again.

I make no excuse for my plagiarism, I'll borrow anyone's genius.

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

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Have you ever been to Bettisfield?

We spent a day at Grindley Brook, rotten weather so we stayed put. When we moved on Jandai was still on the moorings and when we got to Whitchurch we found Moore2Life, Rock and Roll and Seyella parked just beyond the arm. We didn't stop there, it's a splendid town but it is a bit of a drag from the cut. We tootled on towards Ellesmere, it's lovely country but doesn't lend itself to photography as it is rather flat. Jill enjoyed herself swinging the windlass on the lift bridges until we came to the bridge just before the Prees Arm, Moriss' Lift Bridge,

Seventy-eight turns to lift it and nigh on as many to drop it again, don't ever try and arm wrestle her.
The next feature is Whixall Moss, perhaps lack of features would be more accurate.

A rare raised bog with many rare plants and insects, I bet that includes mossies in the summer. At this time of year it's just a flat, brown stretch of dead grass/reeds.

The post that marks the border between England and Wales, it actually says Wales on one side and England on the other but it doesn't show up in the picture so, once again, you'll just have to take my word for it. Of course when you get to Ellesmere you are back in Shropshire so this bit of Wales doesn't last long.
There is a water point at Bettisfield, (it's not marked in Nicholson's), so we decided to stop for a day or two and give the washing machine a bit of a work out.
Bettisfield is actually in Wales, you can tell as all the road signs are bi-lingual, but that didn't stop us venturing forth and here follows a tour of the sights of Bettisfield.

There is still a railway station here, it even has a couple of enamel adverts. on the walls, unfortunately it no longer has a railway line, both it and

the old goods shed are now des. res'.
Next? the church, built in 1874, not the usual high Victorian gothic revival at all.

but a nice clean design, just "churchie" enough to keep with tradition. Inside the font and pulpit could almost be from the 1960's.

Well done that architect, G.E. Street if you're interested.
Opposite the church is Bettisfield Hall,

and if you take a walk across the fields and over Cornhill Bridge you find

the Primitive Methodist Ebenezer Chapel. Virtually all the housing is post war and that is Bettisfield, well I didn't say it was exciting did I?
Yesterday we moved on up to Ellesmere and to our amazement the town arm had plenty of space in it, most of the boats here are the bloggers convoy which we have been leapfrogging since Adderley.

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

Monday, 23 January 2012

Wrenbury, Grindley Brook and the dogs lead.

We moved up to Wrenbury last Wednesday, just by Baddiley Locks you look across the fields to Baddiley Hall and it's attendant church. The classical lines of this Georgian house are just sublime, shame modern housing can't look this good.

At Baddiley bottom lock we were greeted by a cheerful song,

we pointed out that he was too late to audition for Christmas cards and would need to wait 'til next Christmas. They look cute but actually they are nasty bits of work, quite happy to kill another robin that intrudes on their territory, but they are our national bird, perhaps a comment on the English?

At Wrenbury you meet the first Llangollen lift bridge, form and function equals elegance.
That night we decided that, as we hadn't had a meal out for a while, we would grace the portals of The Dusty Miller,

it turned out to be a wise decision. Scallops and black pudding for a starter followed by pan fried duck breast and it was cooked to perfection. Jill's smoked salmon followed by a steak was just as good and we rounded it off with the cheese board. The Robinson's bitter was really well looked after and the service impeccable. Being mid week in winter it was really quiet, how good it would all be on a busy weekend at the height of the season I can't say but if you are feeling flush and fancy a really good nosh up, give it a shot.
Next day we wandered up to the village shop for milk, needless to say we had to go and have a look at the church,

a close examination disclosed no ancient graffiti but it did have a couple of interesting features,

a three storey pulpit and

the ends of the pews were decorated with the coats of arms of the local bigwigs, apparently it was to stop arguments about who could sit where, but my favourite was right at the back of the church, just by the door,

it's the dog whippers pew, the dog whipper's job was to keep the local dogs out of the church and to make sure none of the congregation dozed off during the vicars sermons, those were the days.
We stayed at Wrenbury until this morning because of the rotten weather, can't be doing with cruising in a force eight gale, but at 0900 we were off. At Marbury on the lock side,

our first snowdrops, just about three weeks early.
Then on to Grindley Brook and it's locks.

This is the bottom of the three normal locks which you climb and then you arrive at the three staircase locks. We had to wait at the bottom of the staircase as there was a boat coming down and I thought, "I will put the coolie hat back on top of the chimney," the wind on Saturday had blown it off. So I went to retrieve it from under the cratch where we had stowed it, as I lifted it out I managed to catch the dogs lead with it, the lead immediately headed downwards towards the water so I dropped the coolie hat and made a wild grab for the lead, which I missed. A second later and the only trace of the lead was a circle of ripples on the surface of the canal, the coolie hat was looking decidedly battered where it had hit the concrete and Jill was yelling that the other boat was coming out of the lock and to get moving. It was enough to make a strong man quail, not being a strong man I merely panicked.
By now Jill had got Dai, from Jandai, helping her on the locks so there was nothing to do but but abandon the dog lead and make my miserable way into the locks.

Like all the best stories this one had a happy ending, having parked Armadillo on the water point at the top of the locks I left Jill stuffing the dirty laundry into the washing machine and, armed with my trusty seasearcher magnet, I went back to the scene of the disaster and after a few casts up came the dogs lead, it's a chain one so the magnet had no trouble retrieving it. I rushed back and showed my trophy to Jill who merely sighed and raised her eyes heavenward, oh well.

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

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Twisted chimney.

Glorious dawn this morning,

I was out with the old dog, one hundred yards and that's it, she sits down and challenges you to move her further, she was always lazy but age has added stubbornness to idleness. So after breakfast Jill and I felt the need to stretch our legs and set off up the towpath,

bridge 5 is looking somewhat part worn, in fact the entire facing brickwork is missing on the upstream side. Will things get better under C.A.R.T? I'm not holding my breath.

It's not every day you see a chimney like this, must have been quite a brickie to build that. Actually the building isn't a bungalow, you just can't see the ground floor, it's below the embankment.
Finally, just to prove it's a bit parky up here,

the bottom of the by-wash at Sawley bottom lock, that's ice hanging on the bushes.

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

Monday, 16 January 2012

Hurleston and the start of the Welsh Canal.(Llangollen Canal)

Having fulfilled our needs in Nantwich we have set off on our journey toward Llangollen, you can pronounce it however you like, which we intend to explore to the outrance. As usual our intentions may not coincide with the eventual outcome but we'll do our best.

The first sight of Hurleston locks where the Welsh canal leaves the Shroppie, coming from the south under the bridge makes it a really awkward turn but, needless to say, we got round and managed to get me ashore to set the locks.

As Jill rose majestically up the first lock I came back to tell her the good news, the pound between the first two locks was frozen. Luckily it was not thick and she pushed through it ok. The rest of the flight was clear of ice so we lost none of our nice new blacking.

Two views of the wonderfully sinuous paddle gear on the third lock up. there is no obvious reason for it's shape and I know of no other quite like it, it does give a talking point though.

This is what you see as you look back down the flight from the top lock.
As we are heading towards Wales we thought it very appropriate that next to the flight we saw our first

daffodil of the year. We were pleased to note that there wasn't a leek in the canal,oh those puns!
We are now moored between bridges four and five and we are watching The Masters snooker on the telly, you'll get little sense from Jill this week and not much more from me.

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

Saturday, 14 January 2012

War breaks out in Cheshire?

Sometimes I worry about the state of English society. We set of for the supermarket today but, as we had some mail to go we headed for town first.

View of the main road bridge over the Weaver, this is on the way to town in case anyone was wondering about the relevance of the picture.
Well when we arrived in the town square we were confronted by a somewhat unusual sight.

Bearing in mind the cowboys we found at Stourport in the summer I suppose we should not have been surprised to find Civil War troops at Nantwich,

except that most of these seemed to be old enough to have fought in the Civil War. Oh well, each to their own I suppose.
So we did our shopping and tomorrow we head for the Welsh Canal, I understand that the signal is pretty dire up there but I'll do my best.

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

Friday, 13 January 2012

The picture of the ducks is quite nice.

Sunrise yesterday at Coole Pilate, occasionally a photo' really comes off, I think this is one of them.
This morning was rather different,

a heavy frost and a cold mist over the fields.

As the sky cleared we looked up, everybody was obviously heading off for warmer climes, at one point we counted twenty one vapour trails criss crossing the sky. Like the M25 up there.
We moved down to Nantwich today for a complete restock of essentials, bottle of malt, two litres of Amontillado and a dozen assorted bottles of red. We also bought some sprats, roll on breakfast.
From where we are moored the shortest route to town takes you over the River Weaver and just by the bridge over the river,

there was this pair of mandarins, they look totally out of place on an urban river in the middle of an English winter but they do brighten the place up.
Tomorrow is the food shopping, oh the thrill.

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

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A touch of philosophy and some catkins.

This should have been on yesterday's post but somehow it was missed. Mind you, as we did absolutely nothing today it does give me an excuse to slip in an extra post. Is it possible that my existence is totally heterotelic? I exist purely to service the blog? I blog, therefore I am? Or as Nietzsche says "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."
Now where was I?

Beside lock 10 on the Audlem flight, spring seems to have arrived already, from other reports it seems that the daffodils are racing the snowdrops to be the first spring flowers, English weather, don't you just love it?

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Struggling on.

Despite the ravages of what could possibly have been a severe attack of pneumonic plague (Yersinia pestis) we have survived. New year celebrations were decidedly muted as, despite liberal ingestion of my cough cure, I was not at my best, perhaps there was not enough of the West Indies finest in the mix? By new years day Jill had joined me on my bed of pain and was sounding like a seal calling for another herring but as stores were by now running low we set off for Market Drayton.

 Tyrley Wharf was basking in the winter sun as we watered and set off down the lock flight, by the bottom of which we were both past caring.
Having shopped the next day we were then beset by by a howling gale and, for some reason, a lack of 'phone signal. It's usually quite reliable at M.D.but not this time. We decided to spend a few days in the country and headed down to our favourite mooring at Adderley where we were joined by fellow bloggers Moore2Life and Seyella and where we sat out what was possibly the worst gale we have experienced since we moved onto the boat, it even blew the satellite dish clear off the roof.
Four days later and in much improved conditions we felt compelled to move as the water tank was getting low, I must admit we are somewhat profligate in our use of water, a reprehensible trait in boat dwellers.

In the Adderley pound the dredger was hard at work,

the dredgings being moved down the cut and spread on a nearby field.

Should grow a good crop on that next year.
Shopping at Audlem and today we moved on to Coole Pilate where there are now four bloggers, Rock and Roll also being here along with Moore2Life and Seyella.
Jill is still coughing but hopefully we are both recovering, I don't know who passed the bug on to us but if I find out...........!

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