Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ha haargh, Oive never known a night loike it in moi loife!

It feels more like Cape Horn than the Welsh Canal.

We are bouncing about like a good 'un.

Jill says she should have bought the sea sick pills.

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

Monday, 30 March 2015

We encounter Saturn at bridge 47.

I sometimes feel a little guilty when I read other peoples blogs. There they are covering the miles, clocking up the locks and here we are, loafing about, not in any particular hurry. But then we are actually not going anywhere in particular and, in general, don't have to be there at any particular time. So I think we will continue with our habit of staying put when the weather doesn't look too good or if  we just happen to like it where we are. Having said that we do make it a point not to outstay our welcome.

Having sat out the wind and rain at the weekend we set off this morning and were soon at Tilstock Park Lift Bridge, sixty odd turns of the windlass to lift it, Jill counts every one of 'em. Once through  we were at the beginning of Whixhall Moss,

 a large expanse of peat bog, once exploited for peat cutting but now a nature reserve, famous in the summer for its dragonflies and also its mosquitoes.

Passing the junction with the Prees branch, another canal that never actually got to where it was meant to, it now ends in a marina. I will confess to never having ventured up there, maybe one day, just to say we have done it.

A few hundred yards further on we crossed into Wales, the border being marked with this impressive obelisk. We weren't asked for our passports.

At bridge 47 we pulled over, giving a boat coming down right of way. It turned out to be Saturn, the last Shroppie Fly Boat. Unfortunately we had picked the shallowest bit of the canal to try passing, so as they poled themselves of from the mud on the offside we coasted onto the mud on the towpath side.

Eventually they got free and passed us safely. It's always a pleasure to see Saturn out and about, but not at this particular spot!

Just beyond the bridge is Bettisfield, a pleasant little village, where we have moored in the past so we decided that, as we had picked up something on the prop, we would call it a day. Unfortunately the spot where we had moored in the past had become silted up so we moved on a couple of hundred yards and eventually managed to get in.

Though we still had to use our wheels to hold us out from the mud.
And back to the beginning, strong wind warnings in force for tomorrow so I think it may be Wednesday before we move again.
It was a couple of foot of garden string around the prop, easy enough to remove although the water is still a mite on the cool side.

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

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Butterbur and bridges.

The by-washes at Grindley Brook are a tad lively at the moment. The bottom lock has a particularly vicious one which, combined with the bridge across the lock tail, makes the approach somewhat hazardous. I made a right cob of it but just managed to squeeze in without actually hitting anything.

Just above the first lock we spotted these unusual flowers. They belong to the butterbur, that plant that, in the summer, frequently lines the canal banks with its huge leaves.

The lockie was out and about and helped us through the staircase locks, he said that they were running more water down ready for the Easter rush and that was why the by-washes were acting up.

Once through the locks we stopped for water and got rid of the rubbish. Why oh why do the supermarkets have to use so much packaging? I also took the opportunity to wash off the winters accumulation of grime the right hand side of the boat. Make note never again to moor under trees, our feathered friends can make a right mess.
The bridge is Hassal's No.1 Lift Bridge. It has a partner slightly further on, Hassal's No.2.
Just beyond bridge 35 we found a splendid spot to moor. So here we are, once again parked for the weekend.

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

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Just another quiet day on the Welsh canal.

We had our day at Wrenbury and lunched royally at the Cotton Arms. If you ever eat there try the pork medallions with black pudding. Three pork medallions and two large portions of black pudding. Superb.
Yesterday morning dawned frosty with a heavy mist cloaking the countryside.

By the time we set off the mist had cleared and the frost had gone. We had no ambitions to travel a vast distance so we just meandered through the beautiful Cheshire countryside under a blue sky dotted with fine weather clouds.

There can be no finer way of spending a spring morning than drifting gently through such scenes of bucolic beauty.

Now here's an oddity, the Willeymoor Lock Tavern, a canalside pub which we had never visited despite having passed it on several occasions. So yesterday we put the situation right and a splendid hostelry it turned out to be. The Lymestone Brewery's Heart of Stone proved to be an excellent choice. In future I think we may be tempted not to pass it by.
This morning dawned wet with a brisk wind cutting across so, having summed up the alternatives, we stayed put.

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

Monday, 23 March 2015

A short hop under grey skies.

Yesterday's sunset and clear skies promised a fine day. So much for the old red sky at night tale, today dawned grim and grey.
But having enjoyed a weekend of rugby and snooker we felt that we really should move on a bit.

Bridge five has been in a perilous state for years. The bricks for the repair have been there but nothing ever seemed to get done but now, hoorah, they actually appear to be doing something with it. Although you can't see it in the picture there are several courses of freshly laid brickwork.
So we crept on under leaden skies, occasionally enlivened by a spot of drizzle. The only bit of colour in the day was at lock two at Swanley.

A bit of yarn bombing enlivened the top gate. I was nearly past it before I spotted it and just managed a quick photo'.
By Wrenbury we had had enough, I am obviously not quite back to full fitness so we called it a day. I suspect we will spend tomorrow here. The Cotton Arms looks good.

Watch this space........

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The bugs strike back.

Well things didn't play out as we had hoped. Last Monday, as I was on the road to recovery, we moved down as far as Nantwich. Plan for Tuesday was a quick raid on Morrisons, lunch in the Vine and then hey-ho for the Welsh canal on Wednesday. But those nasty little microbes had other ideas. 0300 Tuesday I awoke unable to breath, severe chest pains, hacking, coughing and I probably had a temperature but I won't lay claim to one as we don't have a medical thermometer.
The upshot was that we spent Tuesday getting to see a doctor and after a quick check up she diagnosed a severe chest and upper respiratory tract infection and put me on double strength antibiotics. By yesterday I was feeling somewhat better and we had to move as we were down to about an inch of water in the tank. So we observed the eclipse as we had a pump out, filled with diesel and most importantly topped up the water tank. As it was a most pleasant day we moved on to Hurleston where C&RT were busy sorting the capping stones along the side of the first pound.

We were soon up the four locks, I will confess to leaving rather more than usual of the work to Jill but, bless her, she made no complaint, although I get the feeling she may take the advice of Marilyn of nb.Waka Huai.
We stopped between bridges two and three, opposite Bache House.

Not a bad view from the side windows.
We are staying here for the weekend to allow me to recover fully, not to mention the last three matches of the Six nations and the final of the World Grand Prix snooker on ITV4.

Finally, well you have to try it don't you. Not unpleasant but slightly lacking in character. I think I will stick to Scotch.

Watch this space........

Sunday, 15 March 2015

We have hoisted the yellow jack.

Any boats passing us at Coole Pilate beware. We are flying the yellow jack. We have a bad case of that most terrible of winter diseases, MAN 'FLU, on board.
It didn't stop me enjoying the rugby yesterday but I had a relapse as soon as the final whistle went.
The worst thing is that I have lost my voice, how can I shout for another cuppa with a throat like sandpaper?
I will survive though.

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

Thursday, 12 March 2015

A six hour day? No wonder we're tired.

It's not often we put in a six hour day but we were determined to get to Coole Pilate for the weekend and as tomorrow is forecast to be a tad damp we set off to do it in one day.

The five Adderley Locks are usually a pleasure but today the top gate of lock three wasn't playing and much to her embarressment Jill had to call for help, it took a real effort to open it.

Out the bottom, the by-wash here always makes picking up the lock worker an interesting exercise. I've generally found it best to go beyond the lock landing and pick them up a bit further along.
Audlem comes next with its fifteen locks, once we get into the "Thick" we have our own routine, Jill opens the top gate of the lock, I bring the boat in, shut the gate and drop the paddles, Jill raises one of the bottom paddles and I do the other and Jill then goes on to set the next lock. Once the lock is empty I open the bottom gates and drop the paddles by which time Jill will have the top gate of the next lock open and off we go again.
Although today was more winter than spring nobody seemed to have told the flowers. We saw wood anemones, coltsfoot, primroses, celandine, the last of the snowdrops and daffodils.

These are a cultivar called Jetfire, a small, early flowering variety and one of my favourites.

And this is how you measure off your progress down the Shroppie, the distinctive 19thC. mileposts.

Out the bottom of Audlem. That tiller arm needs a polish and so does Armie, our tiller pin and mascot.
So we made it to Coole Pilate. The promised rain has arrived and we will sit here until Monday. A weekend of rugby.

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

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The troglodytes of Tyrley. No, I don't mean the painters.

Now sitting with fingers crossed. The amount of water below the floor is reducing. Hopefully it is now just the last drops seeping out from below the ballast slabs. But that blasted pump keeps cycling. I am inclined to agree with Andy Gic, could well be a faulty pump, although the present one has only been fitted for about nine months. May well bite the bullet and fit the spare and see how that does. And thanks to Roger for the offer of help.
But at least we are now on the move, yet again.
Having spent the weekend at the Anchor we set off yesterday, aiming to go back up the Welsh canal at least as far as Ellesmere and then dive down the Montgomery for a few days.

At the southern end of Woodseaves cutting C&RT's contractors are busily getting on with remedial work to try and prevent the sides joining the middle.

These gabions may not be pretty but hopefully they will stabilise the sides. How they will deal with the off side I have no idea.
At Tyrley the volunteers were out in force, paint brushes in hand and doing a splendid job.

 You can't say that C&RT were stinting in the equipment that they had provided.

They even offered us a coffee if we had cared to stop. Not only that but they did all the work and had us down Tyrley in just under thirty minutes.
A while back, in conversation with another boater, I happened to mention how well C&RT were doing with cutting back vegetation and smartening up some of the lock flights. He bemoaned the fact that a lot of it was being done by volunteers. Now am I missing something? I don't care if it is being done by volunteers, the W.I. or little green men from the Alpha Centauri planetary system as long as it is being done.
The niches in the cutting side by the bottom two locks seem to have been taken over as dwelling places by some homeless locals.

It seems that the housing crisis is hitting all levels of society. Some are reduced cave dwelling.
Shopping at M. Drayton today and hoping to be down at Coole Pilate for the weekend. Six Nations, we're playing Scotland. Hopefully we will get the win.

Watch this space........

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A brief update on the plumbing.

Well we took the boat to pieces, inspected every joint in the pipework and all were dry. The water under the shower, on closer inspection, turned out to be from an earlier mishap with the shower pump. Mick then spotted that the pipe from the pressure relief valve to the outside had a dodgy join to the hull fitting. Removing the p.r.v. showed a build up of lime scale so it was obvious, seepage through the p.r.v. building up in the pipe and leaking at the joint, "Bingo".
So he replaced the valve, sorted the join and we smiled at a job well done. He then had to rebuild the bed and refit the kick boards in the kitchen. Celebrations at success, except that it hasn't cured it. The water still appears and the pump still cycles.
I havn't told him yet and he's off on holiday tomorrow.

Jill's toe remains painful although the bruise is fading. And no Sue, such carrying ons are now in the past, time was.......

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