Monday, 30 April 2012


After suffering through yesterday's weather today dawned bright with a stiff breeze so it was time to move on. Not having shopped for over a week we were running short of some essentials so it was off to Congleton.

We soon passed Ramsdell Hall, it was built by the Lowndes family around 1760 and is still a private residence. Not a bad little country cottage, mind you the hoovering must take for ever.

First clutch of goslings we have seen this year, posing with the proud parents.
As you approach Congleton you come across the first of the Macc. "snake" bridges.

Virtually all English narrow canals have examples of roving or turnover bridges, they were designed so that when the towing path changed sides the horse did not have to be unhitched from the boat. The Macclesfield ones are just the most elegant design of a roving bridge. They also give you a chance to get all posey with the camera.

Good eh?
The forty-eight hour moorings are opposite the old wharf,

the warehouse of which has been turned into? You guessed, des.res. Seems to be the fate of all old canalside industrial buildings.
After a quick cuppa we grabbed the shopping trolley and headed for the fleshpots,

under Dog Lane Aqueduct and down Canal Road. Ten minutes later we arrived opposite

the fine town hall. Congleton seems a town worth spending an hour or two exploring but we were on a mission so I just managed only

a quick shot up the appropriately named Little Street and one of an old silk mill being converted into,

yes, once again. These have a splendid view of the back of the shopping centre and Morrisons car park, well worth paying £110K for.
It takes a bit more than ten minutes getting back to the boat, dragging a shopping trolley that weighs a ton up a hill that has doubled in length and gradient since you tripped merrily down it. I've noticed this strange phenomenom  on other hills.

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

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Against all odds we arrive on the Macclesfield Canal.

It has taken us a week to climb the Cheshire Locks, mostly due to inclement weather. We see no point in getting cold and soaked standing on the back when arriving a few days later than we thought we might arrive makes not an iota of difference to anyone, our schedules are far too vague to really be thought of as plans.
Anyway, setting off early Monday from Middlewich, we went past

the last canalside reminder of the vast salt works that once dominated the town, how come that salt doesn't all melt in the wet weather? Before leaving Middlewich I would like to say thank-you to Kings Lock Chandlery, during the course of the engine service we found that the seal on the cooling system pressure cap was knackered and Aqueduct did not have one in stock, so arriving in Middlewich we nipped down to Kings Lock who also did not have one but one of the staff immediately jumped in his car and went down the local motor factors and got one for us. That'll do me for service.
We moored about a mile north of Wheelock and then the weather intervened.

So we stayed put. No mobile signal so no internet, but it is the World Snooker Championship from The Crucible in Sheffield so we are a bit preoccupied.
On Wednesday, as the heavens opened once again, we had a brief visit from the B.W. veg pledge operatives,

who kindly smothered the side of the boat with wet grass cuttings.
We eventually moved on on Friday, getting into the real Cheshire Locks.

When the knees finally give out and the back will bend no longer, then we dream of living in a lock cottage like this; no chance, couldn't afford the left hand chimney let alone the cottage. Oh well, we can dream.
We had promised ourselves a stop at Hassal Green and a beer or three in The Romping Donkey but when we got there, to our horror, not only was it closed but

 the new owner has decided on some radical remodelling. This is a four hundred year old listed building with protected status and some vandal has ripped half of it down with out even bothering to apply for planning consent, it's enough to make you weep. So we went on through the next two locks and had cheese and biscuits and a cup of tea on board and watched the snooker.
Saturday we were off early again. At lock fifty-four you have this terrace of attractive old cottages on one side

whilst on the other

you have a bit of a contrast.
The church at Church Lawton sits in a circular churchyard atop a mound.

 Generally taken to mean that in pre-christian times this would have been a site of ritual significance that was taken over by the new religion. Did you catch the archaeologists jargon there? I'm a real Time Team junkie.
A stop at Red Bull services for water and a pump out and then up the last couple of locks under the aqueduct.

Then a sharp right

under the junction bridge at Hardings Wood, a few hundred yards further and there is another sharp right

and you are heading north and going over the aqueduct you just went under

and you can look down on the locks you just came up. If you were in a car at a motorway junction you would think nothing of it but on a boat on a canal such over and undering is something special.
At Hall Green you meet the stop lock that divides the waters of the Trent and Mersey from those of the Macclesfield Canal and when you look at the lock cottage you begin to realise you are heading into a different part of the system, no more mellow red brick but

a grey gritstone, redolent of the hills of the north. The bridges are now

of the same dour stone, Peak Forest here we come.
We eventually moored at bridge eighty-seven, just by The Rising Sun where we partook of a more than adequate lunch and the couple of pints we had been denied at The Romping Donkey. Jennings Cumberland Bitter and it was in splendid condition.
Today it is back to raining torrents and blowing a full gale so here we have stayed, watching the snooker on't telly in the shadow of Mow Cop.

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

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Why do they have to mess about with things?

What has happened to Blogspot? I come to put a post on and everything has changed. Where has the dashboard gone? Where has everything gone? I do wish they wouldn't mess about with things, it will take me weeks to work out where everything is. Being a good old fashioned technophobe I'm frightened to click on anything in case the whole lot implodes. If it ain't broke don't fix it is a good motto as far as I'm concerned. So I'm off now for a damn good sulk and possibly a bit of muttering. A plague on them.
The weather's rotten as well.

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

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Oh my what a rotten day.

Yesterday wasn't so bad, had the engine serviced at Aqueduct Marina, I know I should do it myself but unless it has no more than two cylinders and B.S.A. on the tank I am clueless. Took the opportunity for a full English in their cafe, good fry up, just what the doctor ordered. We also bought some peat briquettes for the stove, they burn well, the only trouble is we're starting to smell like a Scottish crofter's flannel vest, time for the Febreze?
We moved on to our favourite mooring on the Middlewich Arm,

just above Winsford Top Flash and the River Weaver and we have had real April weather,

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

Rain, hail wind and just now thunder and lighting, I know we need the rain but this is taking the Mick.
For lack of anything else

I took a photo' of a locomotive on the main line just across the fields, isn't that exciting?
Middlewich tomorrow?

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

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Flowers and clouds.

Walking again yesterday, it was just a beautiful day.

The blue of the sky was reflected

in the periwinkle flowers that brightened the hedgerow and the sun was like

a dandelion cast into the sky. Mostly though the sun hid

behind the scattering of little fluffy clouds.

Aconites, wood anemones or, as we knew them in Sussex when I was a lad, wind-flowers. Much more descriptive, whether they get the name from the way they flutter in the breeze or because they flower in April, which is generally a windy month, I have no idea.

It was a day for clouds and

You see I do have a poetic soul really, it just doesn't show very often

Having read the letters in the Canal Boat ref. continuous cruisers I can only say I think the magazine is going to have a rather full postbag. Having read the responses from the blogosphere I get the feeling somebodies ears will be burning, I did like Maffi's little note, most succint. I have winged off a missive myself via the electronic mail system but doubt it will get published, it pales into insignificance compared with others I have seen. But a murrain on all who would attempt to force we c.c.'rs to pay more.

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

Sunday, 15 April 2012

I love to go a wandering, tra-la.

It was just too pleasant a morning to sit on board so after the obligatory Full English, egg (fried), bacon (smoked back rashers), sausage, black pudding and mushrooms, it was on walking boots and off for a brisk constitutional.

The refurbishment at Venetian Marine is well under way with some of the old pontoons gone and dredging taking place. The junk antique shop has gone and I presume the building will be used as a chandlery.

There are lots of cowslips along this stretch of the cut, one of the old country names for them was St. Peter's Keys, which doesn't say much for security on The Pearly Gates.

That reminds me, must get some more milk.
I've just gone ahead in the "Who can get the best photo' of a heron" competition between Jill and I.

If you look really carefully you can see it has a little fish in its beak, and then

here it is looking smug after having swallowed it.
The wildlife was in a cooperative mood today, this comma butterfly sat still long enough for me to get a couple of reasonable shots of it.

Then it was the turn of

a Chinook, not sure if that counts as wildlife.
We also saw our saw our first swallow of the year and no, I didn't get a picture of it, it was too fast.

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

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Early(ish) morning at Hurleston.

Three months, short a day, ago we climbed Hurleston Locks onto the Llangollen, today we descended those locks and rejoined the main system. It was an early start to beat the rush at the locks, we nearly managed it.

Early morning at the top of the flight and yes, someone beat us to it. We took the opportunity to top up the water tank and ditch the gash, not sure where the next rubbish bins are after Barbridge Junction.

From the top lock the flight stretched before us with the mist shrouded Cheshire plain in the background. The descent was uneventful except for two boat loads of nervous novice boaters making their way up who caused a slight delay as they led one of the boats between locks on a rope.

A last look back from the bottom lock and below us

Hurleston Junction and the main line of the Shroppie. We turned left and at Barbridge it was right onto the Middlewich Branch, at the moment our intention is to head up to the Macclesfield Canal and then up to Bugsworth but as with all our plans,

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

Thursday, 12 April 2012

We'll soon be off the Llangollen.

Doesn't time fly when there's no usable signal for the jolly old dongle. After sitting out the Easter weekend near Bettisfield just watching the happy boaters go past in the wind and rain we braced ourselves on Tuesday and headed off to Grindley Brook.

Jill really enjoyed her tussle with her old adversary, eighty-eight turns to lift it. I am better suited to more cerebral things, like steering. It just happened to be lunchtime when we arrived at Grindley Brook so we adjourned to The Horse and Jockey, excellent beer and food, the only drawback was the hailstorm that pounced on us as we walked down the locks, it didn't 'arf sting me ears.

As we strolled back after lunch I came over all artistic and captured this image of light and shade, Jill said I'd never been artistic, only artful, a gross calumny on someone who has only ever displayed the utmost probity in all things, mostly.

I was amazed to see that they had replaced the hydraulic pipes on this paddle gear, it would be so much more sensible to replace the gear and dispose of these horrors. they are fine for lift bridges but are definitely a health hazard on locks.
Yesterday we leapt onward to Wrenbury, still no signal so we had dinner in The Dusty Miller, made pigs of ourselves and nearly broke the bank.

Blackthorn in flower, I like to think of it more as this years sloe crop.
Finally, near Burland, this years first brood, well the first we've seen.

Altogether now, "Aaaaaahhhh".

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