Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Three canals, one that is, one that was and one that never made it.

We're still on the same stretch, one more weekend at The Anchor and we will be off, heading north, Chester? For the moment we are once again at Norbury Junction, open mic. night in The Junction tomorrow.
Now about the three canals, the first one is familiar to most of us on the canals.
The Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, it runs from Wolverhampton to Nantwich where it joins the Chester Canal, it is now better known as the Shropshire Union Main Line.

At Norbury Junction the second canal branches off

under a rather attractive bridge. This is now just a stub used for moorings with a dry dock at the end. The dock is built on the site of the top lock of a flight of seventeen that dropped boats down to join the Shrewsbury Canal. Originally the canal was built for tub boats and ran from Shrewsbury to Trench where an inclined plane connected it to the east Shropshire tub boat canal system. In 1835 the Newport branch was built from Wappenshall to Norbury to connect it to the main system. There is an active restoration society. Today we wandered down to the hamlet of Oulton where a minor road crosses the route of the old canal.
From a walk a few years ago we knew that one of the old locks was visible and if you were prepared to brave beds of nettles and man eating brambles you could scramble down from the bridge, to our surprise it seems that the W.R.G. have been active and

the lock chamber and surrounds have been cleared and it was relatively easy to clamber down from the bridge.

The cill is still in situ and does anyone know the proper name for the big chunk of iron that protects it from the front end of boats going up?

From below the bridge is still in perfect condition. We followed the old towpath down and discovered two more lock chambers,

one of which still had the remains of its bottom gates in place although the top gate needs quite a serious restoration.

The accessible section ends at another bridge which actually has water under it although I doubt I'll still be around when the next boat comes through.
I must thank Simon at Norbury Wharf for calling my attention to the third canal. It seems that in 1766 a certain Richard Whitworth put forward a plan to join the River Severn at Atcham with the as yet unbuilt Trent and Mersey at Shallowford.

It would have followed the course of the rivers Tern and Strine as far as Newport and then headed north east towards Eccleshall and then on to the a junction with the T.&M. It would have crossed the current route of the Shropshire Union near High Offley. The project had local support but failed to get support in Parliament. However Whitworth had already put weirs across the Lonco Brook, a local stream, in order to fill a reservoir as water supply. This interfered with the flow of the brook which caused a shortage of water at the nearby Weston Jones Mill, a mile downstream. He was sued by the tenant of the mill at Stafford Assizes and had to pay damages and remove the weirs.
So there you have the three canals.

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

Monday, 24 February 2014

A birthday party at The Anchor.

Olive, the landlady of The Anchor at High Offley, was eighty on Sunday so it was party time Saturday night.

The pub had been suitably decorated and was soon packed solid with well wishers.

Standing room only, the gap on the settle was my seat, I took the photo as I came back with the drinks. After suitable libations had been consumed the musical instruments came out and we were soon into a sing song.

Duck Dave, belting out some old time rock 'n roll got it off to a good start.

Mal (Edwards M.B.E.) on guitar and some of the backing group. The joint was really starting to swing.

From the facial expressions I think the ukulele player had just played a bum note or three. By now most of us wouldn't have noticed. Far left is Nathan on mouth organ, he's getting better at it.

Here's the lady herself with Maggie and Railway John behind her.
It was a brilliant evening for a wonderful lady.
Not sure what time we wobbled out and down the towpath, sometime in the early hours by all accounts.

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

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Mostly Esme and Elliot.

We've just had a hectic few days. Daughter Natalie arrived with Esme and Elliot. They kept us on our toes I can tell you. Keeping a four and a five year old amused on a narrow boat is not easy when the weather is being unkind. A trip to Hobbycraft in Stafford provided us with the means to keep them interested.

Esme selected some sewing, easy, with a little help from Jill.

Meanwhile Elliot and I were building gliders. Attempts to fly them in the cabin met with stern disapproval so we hoped for better weather the next day.

Sunday dawned bright and clear with a light breeze so the gliders took to the air. I think it must have been all of twenty minutes before they were reduced to sad, shattered remains but they had flown!

Note the sorry angle of the nose on Elliots aircraft.
We then set off for a walk round Loynton Moss, a local SSSI and nature reserve.

Trees brought down by the storm made a grand climbing frame, with a little help from Mum.

Spectacular display of snowdrops in the wood by the moss.

On Monday they loved a trip to Amaton Farm, somehow I don't think these two will end up as farmers.

Now the boat is empty, they are back in Plymouth. Peace and quiet. Tomorrow we take back the hire car and it's off to The Anchor, again.

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

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

We are still surviving.

At Goldstone Wharf awaiting the next storm, virtually no mobile signal so unable to download photo's. Intend moving back to Norbury Junction tomorrow as daughter Natalie and offspring coming up for a few days, weather permitting.

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

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Hands up all those who are now getting bored with the weather.

Still at Market Drayton, it's not raining yet but the wind is slightly boisterous. We have no intention of moving before Monday, according to the Met. Office that's the first break in the weather, only one day though and then back to normal.
Earlier today I was looking at pictures of Plymouth, our favourite Chinese restaurant, the aptly named Wet Wok, has been totally gutted by the sea and the nearby Waterfront pub is an empty shell. Nothing you can do to stop it, if the sea wants something it will take it, no matter what. At least our daughter who lives down there lives at the top of a hill.
Strolled up into town this morning, needed a new pair of boots, my old pair had come apart at the seams and I do so dislike wet feet. Got funny looks from the lady in the shoe shop when I didn't buy the expensive waterproofing spray but told her I was going to cover them with dubbin, seems that's not fashionable these days. It might not be fashionable but it is effective.

The old Butter Market, they still use it on market days, although no longer to sell butter, just as shelter for stalls.

Next to it is a fine old half timbered building, it used to be The Cheshire Cheese pub, now it houses an optometrist, so instead of getting blind drunk in there you now come out seeing better.
Now going to settle down and watch the Six Nations, Ireland v. Wales this afternoon hotly followed by Scotland v. England. Got the beer in, should be a good afternoon.

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

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Woodseaves and Tyrley.

On Tuesday we moved up to Goldstone Wharf, yesterday we sat out the usual rain and wind and this morning we set off for Market Drayton.

Heading north we came to the mighty Woodseaves Cutting. When they built this canal they seemed to have had a sense of drama, the entrance to the cutting is through a bridge, set like the proscenium arch of a theatre.

Act 1. A waterfall where there shouldn't be one.

It's difficult to comprehend the effort that went into digging this out with nothing but muscle power, no JCBs in those days.

Ever since it was dug there have been problems with unstable sides.

This lot has been brought down by the recent weather. Minor compared to some of the land slips that have occurred but a warning of what can happen.

The ducks had given up on the canal and were swimming up the towpath.
Once clear of the cutting we approached Tyrley Wharf.

There was a surprise waiting for us,

Another Armadillo.

It's been a month or so since we worked through any locks, Tyrley is normally a pleasant flight of locks but with all the rain we've had

the by-washes were a bit frisky and made bringing the boat through quite interesting.

Through the locks and we passed these chaps fishing, they didn't seem to be having much luck.
So here we are at Market Drayton, rain still falling and the forecast for more dire weather.

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

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A rev. counter is not a high tech. way of totting up vicars.

What a week, spent sitting out the weather at High Offley. No chance of a signal out in the boondocks.
Now back at Norbury Junction, where it's not much better.

The rev. counter has been playing up for ages, needle waving about like a demented football fan's scarf. We now have a nice new one that reads zero hours, so I took this picture of the old one before it was removed. 8707.6 hours and she still uses no oil between services. Fitting a new one was strange really, I rarely bother to check the revs. I know what we are doing from the sound of the engine, the wash and all those other little things that you pick up from the boat. But knowing it wasn't working annoyed me no end.
It took three goes to download that picture so I'll pack this in while I'm ahead.

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