Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hey Nonny No and a brown goldfish.

We're in love with these moorings.

What a view like this from the kitchen window who wouldn't be? None of the drama of the Welsh hills or the Peak District, just rural England in the spring. I feel like singing about May mornings with a "Hey Nonny No" or two thrown in for good measure but in the interests of music I won't bother.
This morning whilst sitting on the bank I could here a boat approaching that appeared to be making the most peculiar wheezing noises, as it drew nearer the sound resolved itself into someone in the cabin playing what sounded like Morris dance tunes on an accordion, so I was not alone in my desire to express myself musically, they were just better at it.

Why was I sitting on the bank? Yes I have resurrected the old split cane and wooden star back reel and put the carbon pole back on the shelf. The fish is a brown goldfish, there are a lot of these in the canals, presumably descendants of aquarium fish dumped by bored owners or possibly washed out of ponds by floods. They put up a good fight for their size. The shirt is a left over from the Florida Holiday.
Our old friends Baz and Jen have just turned up on Wandering Star so it's a social evening coming up.

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

Sunday, 27 May 2012

After Stone.

I feel a bit guilty, we've spent a couple of days in Stone and not a single picture or mention of that splendid town. To be honest all we did was restock after the depredations of the family but that is no excuse. I didn't even get down to The Swan for a pint of Joules! So this morning, when we watered before moving on, I nipped up to Star Lock and took a quick photo' of The Star,

now it's just another chain pub but it is one of the sights of the Trent and Mersey and it has what is still my favourite sign of all time.

So don't fall in once the pub has shut, if you do you're on your own.
We've only moved as far as bridge 84 where we intend spending a couple of days.

Just after we tied up Elizabeth went past, a conversion from a working boat that pre-dates Rolt's Cressy by several years.

One of our neighbours, a green plover, lapwing, peewit or, in Linclonshire, a pye-wipe. Take your pick.

Watch this space........

Friday, 25 May 2012

All about grandsprogs.

Well we are back at Stone having dropped the family off this morning. We've had a great week, now totally cream crackered. Not long after they arrived Elliot decided that grandad's hat was just the thing;

Not sure about that, it may well eat his head.
But on day one we set off aiming for The Hollybush at Salt, it was Jill's birthday and Natalie and Mark were determined to treat us to a meal out and, as usual, The Hollybush didn't let us down. Don't attempt their Greek lamb unless you are a world champion trencherman, it's huge. Totally bloated we wobbled our way back to the Armadillo and an early night.

Next day it seemed to need a lot of effort just to shift a gate, all down to over indulgence.

Esme had been given a real camera and was experimenting with some artistic shots while Elliot

practised his film star smile.

Once we moored at Tixall bubbles proved as popular as always but grandad scored even higher with his old fishing pole.

When you are four catching a skimmer bream is overwhelming,

The day was completed by an evening stroll to The Clifford Arms, never had a bad pint there and in the heat the beer garden was pleasantly shaded.

Just showing off, sunset reflecting on the tunnel walls under the railway on our way back to the boat.
Shugborough Hall on the hottest day of the year so far,

with English Longhorns grazing in the park.
In the children's playground Esme couldn't decide if she should be

a mountaineer

or a fire fighter.

Elliot was sure that mountaineering

was out as a career.

And Esme ruled out laundress,definitely not impressed.

As it was very hot and they were getting fractious we looked for an alternative way of transport, didn't work though, they thought I was yokeing.

Back on board Esme finally found employment as a kitchen maid.

If you ever stop at Salt keep an eye out for this villain, we left the offside of the cratch cover up when we went for a meal, on our return we found he had been in, nicked all the ducks bread, vandalised Jill's cushion and left his calling card all over the shop. He's got more neck than a giraffe.

Finally, my favourite picture of the week.
We are now trying to decide where to go next, Stratford is looking good:

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

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Last post for a few days.

I think it's a wood duck, with my ornithological knowledge it could be an ouslem bird, you know, the one that flies backwards in ever decreasing circles until it finally disappears in a big blue flash.
Well tomorrow the family arrive so I suspect that I will have no chance to update the blog until they depart. A two year old and a four year old may well take up most of granddads time for a few days.

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

Friday, 18 May 2012

Through Harecastle Hill and then Stoke.

Just a quick note today:

Where the Macclesfield meets the Trent and Mersey, two lock cottages side by side, the nearest one stone and the other brick, a contrast in styles.

The two Harecastle tunnels, Telfords of 1827 on the left and Brindleys original of 1777 on the right. Note the wonderful colour of the water caused by the iron leached out of the hill.

When you get to this section of the tunnel you duck, it's a tad tight.

My favourite view, looking back once you're out. No sight of the boggart and not a whiff of frying bacon, as usual we had been ignored by the tunnels supernatural denizens.

Jones and Shufflebottom Ltd., I just love the name, what pictures it conjures up.

Some of the Stoke locks act as quite efficient boat washes.

Finally, moored near Barlaston we were schmoozed by the first cygnets we have seen this year, they were out of luck, we had no stale bread.
Stone tomorrow?

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

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A disused tramway, some wild flowers and a cookery tip.

It's fascinating, the things you discover from a casual conversation. At the top of Bosley Locks a B.W. worker was telling a fellow boater that at the bottom of the locks there were the remains of a narrow gauge railway that was used to bring stone down from the quarries on The Cloud to the canal.

Careful perusal of The Cloud showed no signs of the inclined plane that would have been essential on any railway coming down the slope but we set off from the moorings and, having crossed the bottom lock, we plunged into the woods. Sure enough we found

 what was obviously a shallow cutting. Following this along we located the remains of

wooden sleepers and also a small bridge over

a small tributary of the River Dane that emerges from below a retaining wall.

This is a piece of clinker that could have come from the firebox of a steam locomotive, we definitely had the remains of a rail/tram way.
Following it further we came to some old industrial buildings.

No clue as to their purpose but the old track disappeared here.
Back tracking through the woods we went into botany mode:


Bistort and my favourite;

wild garlic or ramsons. For a simple treat just chop a few leaves, soften them in melted butter and then roll freshly boiled new potatoes in the butter, really tasty.
Meanwhile back at the bottom of the locks it became obvious that there had once been a wharf

with a set of steps leading down from the locks.

I was happy that there had been a railway serving a wharf but not that it carried stone from the quarries. A quick rake around the more obscure corners of the internet (Not those corners) and I turned up the information that the railway originally served to carry grain from the canal to a corn mill owned by F.R. Thompstone and Sons. The mill was originally powered by a tributary of the River Dane and it may, in the 18thC. have had connections with Brindley when he was working as a millwright.
So there you have it, a 2'6" gauge tramway, .75 miles long, opened in 1887 and closed about 1925. Interesting? I suppose it depends on you point of view.
Tomorrow we're off under Harecastle Hill, an encounter with the boggart?

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

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Heading back down the Macc.

Two lift and two swing bridges between Bugsworth and Marple,

here's Jill working one of each, she's hiding behind an upright on the swing bridge, eighty five twirls of the windlass to open the lift bridge, she can crush beer cans just using her biceps.
Once on the Macc. we moored overnight at bridge 18 and this morning we crept through Macclesfield, fearing to arouse the ire of Mr Angry if we dared stop for water. We have stopped at Gurnett Aqueduct where, for a change, there is space on the moorings.

Just through the aqueduct, on the left is where, between 1733 and 1740, James Brindley served his apprenticeship.

I don't think that's his car though. There is a plaque on the front of what is now a domestic garage,

so this is where it all started.
On some of the stones of the aqueduct you can clearly see the masons marks.

As the masons finished shaping the stones they carved their own mark into each one so they could be correctly credited for the work they had done and get the proper payment. Two hundred years later their signatures are still clearly visible, we just don't know the names that go with the marks.
Tomorrow it's back down Bosley Locks.

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