Monday, 31 March 2014

Weekend decadence.

On Thursday evening we were collected by nephew Rob and whisked off for the weekend.
Friday morning and we set off for a visit to the nearby world famous port city.

Just to give you a clue.
After lunching in a Brazilian restaurant, a new experience and a pleasant one, we wandered down to Pier Head, overshadowed by the Three Graces.

The Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building.
It was 1981 when last I set foot in Liverpool and the dock areas were derelict and looked to have no future.

It has certainly changed.

Jill went all misty eyed when she found a statue of Billy Fury, her teenage idol.
Some things hadn't changed,

View across the Mersey with Birkenhead and smog,

and the Mersey ferries.

Nephew Rob, his good lady Michelle and Jill. They look like a Blues Brother tribute band.

Sunday lunchtime cocktails at Panama Hatty's, near Tarporley. No, I wasn't drinking cocktails, they were for the ladies.
This morning, having returned to the boat last evening, we left the marina and headed off.
Now at Cholmondeston and heading for Middlewich tomorrow.

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

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Taking time off.

We finally left Chester yesterday and had an uneventful trip up to Tattenhall. We are leaving the boat in the marina for a few days and are off to stay with my nephew and his lovely lady.
Doubt if I will find time to write up our adventures but will continue when we return to the boat, in the meantime,

Watch this space........

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My favourite topic again.

It's raining again and Jill wanted to get her barnet sorted so we are still at Chester, I've left her in the hairdressers, I'm sure I'll still recognise her when she gets back.
Chester is our favourite city and amongst all the attractions there is one that calls us back every time we visit. So yesterday we donned our glad rags and toddled off along the city walls to pay our respects.

The view from the walls across the canal basin with a glimpse, on the left, of the old line that once linked the canal to the River Dee. Plans are afoot to reopen the connection to enable boats to access the river.

If they succeed there will still be a problem, this weir that dates back to Norman times blocks the river upstream, so a method of getting boats past it will need to devised. It will be expensive whatever they decide is practicable.
Having prognosticated for a while on the chances of it ever happening we proceeded onward towards our goal and were soon within sight of

that most splendid hostelry, The Albion.

The interior is decorated with numerous momentos from The Great War.
The food is excellent, proper pub grub. Jill had Cumberland sausages with onions, mash, veg and gravy and I went for boiled gammon with parsley sauce, pease pudding and veg. No gastro pub this but even Jamie Oliver recommends it.

As do we.

Lunch time was only slightly marred when, after I had sent a picture to our son in Tenerife he sent one back of the beach front outside his bar, sea, sunshine, palm trees and, he assures me, lots of scantily attired young ladies. The caption below his picture said simply, "I win". When I pointed out that you can't get a decent beer out there he said he was prepared to put up with euroslop when he has all the other advantages. Can't say I blame him.
 We are definitely moving on tomorrow.

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

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday in Chester.

Started off pretty rough this morning, high winds, rain and just for a change, hail. It had relented somewhat by the time we went up into town.

Chester's latest tourist attraction, the driver was boasting of the air conditioned upper deck. We politely declined his invitation to indulge in a tour of the city.

Some of the famous "rows", shops on two levels, ground floor and first floor with walks at both levels. They are not as old as the half timbering would suggest, mostly built and the end of the 19thC. and the early years of the 20th.

There are some truly old shop buildings, this one is claimed to be the oldest shop in Britain, I'll accept that until someone tells me different.

The arch is Eastgate, one of the gates in the old city walls, the clock celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, God bless her. It is claimed to be the second most photographed clock in Britain after Big Ben.

It's not all old stuff, this modern sculpture stands outside the town hall on Northgate Street. It's ok if you like that sort of thing.

Watch this space........

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Descending into Chester.

The five locks down into Chester are hard work.

The paddle gear has reduction gearing, easy enough to turn but it takes, on average, forty fives turns to raise and the same again to lower them, the gates are heavy as well.
The first two locks are in typical suburban surroundings but as you approach Chemistry Lock older parts of the city come into view.

Terraces of Victorian workers cottages accompany the canal and from the lock itself the old industrial heart of the city is laid out ahead of you.

The water tower is prominent beside the lock, it is close to the springs that supplied water to the Roman town and later the medieval city. A little further down

the derelict Boughton Leadworks shot tower dominates the area.

Other old industrial buildings have found new uses, mostly pubs, restaurants and offices. Some are upmarket apartments.
One of them houses The Old Harkers Arms, a spot on pub with at least six real ales and top class food. Expensive but you get what you pay for.  After the hard work of the locks we felt we deserved a treat and having moored the boat by Tescos we partook of lunch there.

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

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Castles and signals.

Near Bunbury a three hundred foot high rocky outcrop sticks up out of the plain, from the top, on a clear day, you can see across to the Pennines in one direction and the Welsh mountains over to the west. As long ago as the iron age it was recognised as a handy defensive position, the remains of an iron age hill fort are still recognisable. In the 13thC. a chap called Ranulf de Blondeville had the bright idea of building a state of the art castle on top of it.

As there is a sheer drop on three sides it meant that the defences could be concentrated on one side. By digging a thirty foot deep trench across the fourth side it made it pretty well impregnable.
As an aside the WRNS camp in Devonport was called HMS Impregnable, make of it what you will. I am led to believe it was often proved to be wrongly  named.
Outside of the ditch there was an outer bailey wall with massive gatehouse and several D shaped towers.

All in all a formidable place, the arched structure in front of the top towers is a modern bridge to give access to the inner ward, it replaces the original drawbridge. The castle was slighted in 1646 by Cromwell.
In the event of a siege there was a well, three hundred and seventy feet deep, in the inner ward.
Our walk today took us round the base of the hill, unfortunately the castle is on winter hours at the moment and is only open at weekends  so we couldn't get a close up view.
A mile or so over, on the next hill is Peckforton Castle.

A 19thC. stately home built to look like a castle. It is now an upmarket hotel and wedding venue.

We continued on through Beeston and came across an interesting relic, the old cast iron signpost still points to Beeston Station, actually Beeston Castle and Tarporley, on the L&NWR line from Crewe to Chester. The line is still in use but the station is long gone.

Thoughtfully they have painted the station bit out. The station was at least two miles from both of the places it was named for.

At least on the site of the station there is still a working semaphore signal in use, a rare sight these days.

Luckily they have put a stile in the fence here so you can get onto the footpath.

our first sighting this year of the odd flowers of butterbur.

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

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Will this rotten wind ever stop?

Very fond of Nantwich.

Lots of old buildings and independent shops, not to mention the hostelries.
But today we pulled pins and moved on.

When heading north you depart over Telford's aqueduct and you are soon on the wide waters of the Chester Canal. Built to link Chester and Nantwich it is built to barge dimensions.
Two miles further on you come to the waterways equivalent of Spaghetti Junction,

At Hurleston Junction the Welsh Canal heads off towards Llangollen and shortly afterwards, at Barbridge,

the Middlewich arm branches off towards the mighty Trent and Mersey Canal. We'll be heading down there in a week or two, but for now Chester beckons.
By the time we made it to Bunbury locks the wind had risen to gale force and the rain was coming down stair rods and I somehow lost interest in the camera. However we pushed on as far as Beeston and tied up in the shadow of the castle. Fortified by a mug of coffee, well laced with rum, we settled down to wait out the weather. Could be a day or two.

Watch this space.......

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Not just a fashion disaster but a blasted nuisance, I speak of nylon jackets.

Well we didn't win the Six Nations, Ireland managed to put it over on the French which left us as runners up on points difference. I can live with that as it was B. O'D's last international for Ireland and he deserved to go out on a high. We did get the Triple Crown as a consolation.
This morning we set off from Coole Pilate heading for Nantwich, we got to Hack Green Locks, the last two narrow locks for a while, the rest of the locks down to Chester are wide.

As we pulled in to the lock landing we were suddenly aware of a horrible noise under our feet and the wash spread out in a wide fan, definitely something on the prop. The usual ploy of a quick burst of back'ards had no effect so after struggling through the two locks we pulled in. Down the weed hatch I went, a preliminary exploration revealed what felt like material of some description firmly caught around the prop and shaft. It was none too warm in the water but I set to with my trusty pruning knife, the kitchen scissors, the bread knife, a lot of bad language and I even tried the Bargee Bill prop cleaner, a contraption bought when we first got the boat, a device that looks somewhat akin to a medieval battle axe and is about as much use for removing rubbish from the propulsion equipment. That was a real triumph of hope over experience.
Persistence eventually succeeded, an hour toiling in the grim depths revealed, in several horrid pieces,

the sad remains of a nylon jacket, it had been bound tight to the submarine parts by its own zip and adjusting cords.
On our eventual arrival at Nantwich there was nothing else for it, we adjourned to The Vine in Hospital Street, our favourite watering hole, for a well deserved libation. Hyde's Manchester brewery and excellent beer it is.

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