Thursday, 19 October 2017

Middlewich Dry Dock Thursday 19 October 2017

Last night we wandered down to The Narrowboat for dinner, Its the first time I have had a stake in a long time, It was a very lean rump with hardly a trace of fat.
The moorings at Middlewich Narrowboats were quite quiet so we had a good night.

This morning we wandered up to the office about half eight to see what was happening, when we walked back to the boat last night the chap was still grinding on the boat and about quarter to ten a knock on the boat said they were ready for us, so we followed the boat ahead down through the top lock and then turned very sharp right in the top pound to ender the dry dock.DSCF9634 I had been instructed that as soon as the bows entered to stop and kill the engine as they would man handle it in from there. A drop more water was required from above the flight to lift us over the stock.DSCF9636 Once in we were centred using 3 ropes and the stop planks put across the dock entrance. While this was going on the flight was closed as using the locks would effect the levels. Once all stop planks were in the drain was opened to commence emptying the lock.DSCF9638 It wasn't many seconds before we were bottomed out, as the water level dropped a waterproof sheet was pushed down on the outside of the planks and the pressure of water leaking through the gaps in the planks.DSCF9642

It must have taken an hour for the dock to drain completely and as I sit writing this at lunchtime it is pouring with rain, at least it sounds like pouring with it hitting the corrugated roof.

One thing was very fortunate when we came into dry dock, the sliding door on the toilet was wide open, now we have dried out we cant move it, just think if it had been shut.

There is quite a water level problem in the flight outside, nothing seems to be coming down from above, so now the pound on the bend, outside the dry dock is over a foot down and the last boat to come up had problems getting out of the middle lock over the cill.DSCF9641

Latest update, so far work has not started, we were expecting to be pressure washed this afternoon, but that has not happened. Ever since we came into the dock it has been pouring down with rain

I am not sure how long we will be in here for, but posts will start again when we leave.

Today's Journeymap 6 tenth of a mile, 1 lock in 17 minutes.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Middlewich Wednesday 18 October 2017

Last night was much quieter moored here at Sykes Pit moorings. There was hardly any wind this morning and a very heavy dew soaking everything. Last time we came this way someone had laid a plastic mesh on the ground in the grass, now you can hardly see it unless you stand right over a bit in the longer grass like can be seen at the botom of this post.

We pushed off at 10 am. fairly closely behind another boat, we were waiting for a good gap but it didn't happen, with a steady flow in both directions. When we caught up with him at Minshull lock he said he had a lot of problems in one of the bridge holes, still he moved the silt for us.

Diana had another apple scrumping session, well there were on the towpath side of the hedge and will just rot away if left, just like all the ones in the garden.DSCF9623

We were blessed with a Kingfisher, who we followed for about a mile, as he stopped for a bit until we caught up and then flew on. I took lots of photos but unfortunately the auto focus didn't always chose the bird to focus on. but here are a couple, please click them to enlarge them.

DSCF9610 DSCF9620
A little further on it was a buzzard sitting in a tree that I spotted, looking straight at us showing its chest. DSCF9627

We could see where the top had blown out of a large willow tree just before we reached bridge 30, another boater told us that it landed on a moored boat. There is a plastic cruiser moored on the offside just by the tree but luckily it missed that.
Just the other side of the bridge a dead tree stump supports so lovely looking bracket fungi.DSCF9628

Wardle lock was with us well it had leaked off by about 6" so that was soon sorted, by the time Diana was in the lock Martin Fuller in his gorgeous little tug Cutter was below waiting to come up. Martin boats single handed but I would challenge most couples to try to keep up to him, its poetry in motion. DSCF9631

Once back in the Trent and Mersey canal we turned left down to Middlewich Narrowboats where we are now, ready to go on dry dock in the morning. We are both still suffering with colds so I am glad that someone else is doing the hard work for us.

Today's Journey

map 5 7¾ miles, 3 Locks in 3½ hours.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Cholmoneston Tuesday 17 October 2017

Well it was a bit bumpy last night but what a different day to today, yesterday it was tee shirt weather, today the wind felt cold even with a fleece on. Even though the gales subsided overnight today was still breeze.

Yesterday our plans were dashed for our visit to the dry dock, this morning I thought that maybe the new ones were as well/. The Canal and Rivers Trust issue email stoppage notices to let boaters know where there is an emergency closure of the canal, I received one this morning saying a tree had blocked the canal by bridge 30, that is between us and the dry dock. However this afternoon I received an update saying it was now clear.

We pushed off at about our normal 10 am and it wasn't long before we spotted windfall apples right beside the towpath probably due to last nights gales, so I pulled in while Diana went scrumping.DSCF9591

We met a few boats one being an old wooden converted working boat which was on a straight run, this was followed by a hire boat at a bridge on a bend, luckily Diana was sitting at the bows and saw it first so I was able to stop in good time and pull over. We carried on to the visitor moorings just above Cholmondeston Lock where we stopped for lunch. It felt a bit warmer after lunch and we carried on to Barbridge Junction where we turned round to retrace our steps. The junction is also the limit for navigation for boats that have a Bridgewater Canal licence, to travel any further they have to buy a Canal and Rivers Trust licence. In return boats like ours with a CRT licence can pass through the Bridgewater canal join the CRT waters the other side.DSCF9592

When we returned we were pleased to find that Cholmondeston Lock was full and ready for us. We planned to spend the night at the visitor moorings between Cholmondeston and Minshull Lock where volunteers have recently "restored" the lengthman's hut. I a not sure what they plan to do with it now with its large double glazed windowDSCF9499

Today's Journey map 410¾ Miles, 3 locks in 4½ hours

Monday, 16 October 2017

Middlewich Branch Monday 16 October 2017

Well after a bit of rain first thing its turned into quite a pleasant day, the wind didn't really pickup until about half three and its been so warm.

I started the engine to charge the batteries just before breakfast and we set off just after 10 am. it was only a couple of hundred yards to the water point, while the tank was filling Diana went and picked the car up from the layby and reparked near The Big Lock pub. Looking out of the front door the sun was just visible as an orange sphere in an overcast sky.DSCF9586

Diana returned to the boat just as the tank was full and also just as an up coming boat opened the bottom gate of Big Lock, so we joined them in the lock, only to moor again by the kiddies playground well away from trees. That was the plan for today.
map 2THe Plan for today

But plans change, we were booked to go into the dry dock at 9am tomorrow morning, just 2 locks ahead of us.

We decided to walk up to Middlewich Boats and make sure all was OK and there were no hold up's. Fine said the lady, I will find out what time he is planning on coming out and give you a ring. Back on the boat the phone rings, the chap in the dock has a problem, can he stay until Thursday, we would still get our time but a bit latter. After a short discussion we agreed that we could manage it and rang her back before we sat down for lunch and discuss our new plans, three options, turn round and go to Dutton Lock, up or is that down the Trent and Mersey to Wheelock, or Barbridge Junction also what to do with the car.

We settled on Barbridge Junction and left the car at Middlewich Narrowboats. Diana again moved the car and I set off with the boat planning to wait just below the Middlewich Locks, but as I came round the corner I could see the lock emptying and a boat coming out,, so that was that one sorted, I just started working the lock when Diana arrived. As we left the top lock the Volockie was coming back on duty, still there were at least two behind us for him to play with.

Sharp right to Wardle Lock, with the wind freshening the turn was easy, there was a boat in the lock almost at the top and then we were on our way. This lock fills much slower than it did in Maureen's day with a very short pull on the paddles. We gave John and Gillian a wave as we passed and told them we hope to see them Friday at The Big Lock.

The wind didn't really pick up until we reached Stanthorne Lock, the lock its self is quite sheltered, as we passed the last lot of 48 hour moorings just beyond Norman's Bridge there was a space at the end just long enough for us. I had to pull back to get into it, but as soon as I stopped reversing we were committed with the bows just flying across in the wind. I don't think we could leave now even if we wanted to. As for the weather, well its still bright sunshine and the wind is still blowing and the pressure dropping.

Today's Journey map 32¼ miles, 6 locks in 2½ hours

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Middlewich Sunday 15 October 2017

Well we are back on the boat, we got held up in the traffic a bit as the M6 was closed between Junctions 18 and 17 going south, We were going north but everyone wanted to slow down for a look, when I turned off at junction 18 there were still no cars in sight behind me in the nearside lane. It was then a very slow run to the outskirts of Middlewich as all the M6 south traffic was heading through the town, as soon as we turned towards Northwich it was fine.

I set off on Harnser at quarter past four alone, Diana was taking the car to Middlewich to meet me there. Work on the new Oakwood Marina is pushing on, the piling is complete and the first building up to window level.DSCF9581

As you can see the first residents have moved in.DSCF9580

I saw 2 Kingfishers on my journey, the one in the photo is sitting on the bank at water level, the second was about a foot higher on a branch but I was not quick enough to catch them both.DSCF9582

I met several boats on the journey but as the sun got lower if t started to get a bit cooler, even so it was such a nice afternoon its hard to believe what we are suppose to get tomorrow.

Diana parked the car quite close to the Council recycling centre and walked back to meet me by Croxton Flash we then carried on to moor on the new mooring rings below Big Lock just passed the winding hole where we have moored for the night.

Today's Journey Map 14¾ Miles in 1½ hours.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Park Farm Friday 29 September 2017

We woke to the sound of rain so weren't in to much of a hurry to get away this morning, also eating at the Badger Inn last night may have been a bit much on Diana's knee, so she had an extra lay in and breakfast in bed.

I pushed off about quarter past ten by which time there was only the slightest hint of drizzle in the air.

The boat ahead of us was not only running his engine, not sure when he started because he was a good way ahead but it was also in gear, this has an adverse effect on the banks as it will erode them even behind the piling.DSCF9504

I met a few boats before Diana had enjoyed a nice hot shower and appeared. One of the boats that caught our eye has lots of stainless steel on it, the owner also trades selling ice creams as well as metal work. Crowning it all was a bird that looks as if its made from silk.DSCF9507

We carried on to Wardle lock and locked down to the Trent and Mersey canal turning sharp left. As we passed Middlewich Narrowboats I called in and booked Harnser in for bottom blacking so we will be back in a couple of weeks time. A good run down the Middlewich locks meeting a boat at each one which saved work and water.

After a short stop for lunch it was down to Biglock where a boat was about to exit and yet another waiting below so more worked saved.

There was no one moored at Bramble Gardens, there never is when we don't want to stop. The broken Cross club have another working weekend organised for next month.DSCF9511

Since we left about 6 weeks ago a lot of work has taken place at the new Oakwood Marina in one of the flashes, DSCF9516I don't think I would want to be up to my neck lining up piles.DSCF9514

Before we knew where we were we had reached our marina, thankfully I didn't make a pigs ear of it as I was being closely watched. Once moored the solar panels were retrieved from the car and put out on the roof, we don't use them while cruising, just to maintain the batteries while the boat is left.

Today's Journey map 4210½ miles, 6 locks in 5 hours.

As we have been out for about 6 weeks I have included a map of all our travels.IMG_0231

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Minshull Thursday 28 September 2017

Well it was raining when we moored up and it was raining when we went to bed, we had over 10mm during the evening and night.

As the sun rose this morning it was quite misty outside, but this was all gone and we had a clear blue sky at 10 when we set off. Diana's knee was much easier and provided she doesn't twist it she is getting around quite well. We only had 2 locks today and she was able to steer while I locked us through.

I wondered why there were boats moored at the T junction at Hurleston locks leading up to the Llangollen canal, it turned out that the flight was closed because CRT were surveying the bottom lock. The walls have been slowly creeping in for years and it seems to have accelerated over the past couple of years, so now CRT are trying to find an answer for it. It is not the only lock on the system where the walls are coming in.DSCF9490
CRT, well I assume its them, it could be the water company were also working at the other side of the reservoir where water returns to the canal. Here they have been digging out and installing piling and it looks as if some big pipes are going in.DSCF9493

When I turned into the Middlewich arm at Barbridge Junction there wasn't another boat in sight but we did meet a few as we passed all the long term moorings, at Cholmondeston Lock there were 2 volunteer lock keepers on duty and they had the gate open ready for us, but I had already hopped off at the bridge and walked forward, so we had bit of a natter.

Passing the 2 Day moorings between here and Minshull lock I see some netting has been laid in the grass, again making assumptionsDSCF9498
it to try and stop the area turning into a mud bath. At the far end of the moorings the volunteers have restored the old lengthman's hut, lets hope it doesn't get vandalised again after all the effort that has been put in.DSCF9499

As we approached Minshull Lock a boat was just coming out so another one ready for me, This time I hopped off as the boat entered the lock to close the top gate and lock us down.
Not far to go now as we are moored just before Minshull hill bridge and Diana will be testing the progress of her knee with a walk down to the Badger Inn tonight. Just before the moorings their is a crop of fungi growing on the towpath, I don't think I will pick them for breakfast.DSCF9500

I must add a thank you to all the people that have wished Diana well, both in person (blog readers afloat) and electronically.

Today's Journey map 416½ Miles an 2 locks in 2½ hours.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Hurleston Junction Wednesday 27 September 2017

Last night after dark the work boat Effingham came by so I expected him to moor at the top of Audlem Locks and be away first thing so we didn't start to early even though for some reason we woke early.

At about 8 30am a boat came passed so we set of 15 minutes later as I could see others boats coming down the Adderley flight behind us. When we arrived at Audlem Locks our luck took a turn for the better. The boat who came passed earlier were waiting for their son to arrive, Effingham was still tied up, I love the load numbers onDSCF9475 the bow and there was a boat coming out of the top lock.DSCF9477

The first two locks were with us and we waited a few minutes for a hire boat at the third. Then a chap walking down drew paddles on the next few lock. He was walking his 16 year old dog, and doing a lock gave the dog a short rest. After that we started meeting boats all the way to the Shroppie fly, although we did have to wait about for a few, including one who turned the lock and then locked up at a couple of clicks at a time on the paddles, one paddle at a time.

We stopped outside the Shroppie Fly to fill the water tank before continuing down the flight, the last few locks being the slowest. Just above The Shroppie Fly a volunteer was walking up the flight spraying the dog poo orange, I think it would have been better if he had used a shove and just cleared it up, painting it orange wont get rid of it and it wont have any effect on the people who don't clear up after their dogs.
The garden on the off side at the bottom lock is coming on nicely, its a community venture so I am not sure who buy the stuff to set or has the produce.DSCF9480

A few years back there was a travelling theatre group who use to perform canal side and at the IWA National Festivals called Day Star Theatre. They were based at the Old Stables just by the winding hole. The people who ran it still live here and own the boat, The Angry Bull, moored out the front.DSCF9481
This is the land of geese and at one point I estimated there were will over 200 just in one group, other smaller groups were onDSCF9487 different fields and there was a constant stream flying in to join them.DSCF9484
CRT have also done a lot of offside bank protection work using a soft edging supported on wooden posts. I hope the posts are longer living than the ones available around us which seem to rot off in about 3 years. DSCF9482
We stopped for lunch near the Secret Bunker before continuing on our way in weak sun shine, it didn't really clear out all day. Our target was to moor by Hurleston Junction, so as expected there were loads of vacant mooring spots all the way through Nantwich, actually its a pity we didn't stop there.

For some years there has been a boat moored just the Hurleston side of Nantwich, There must be a story behind it as CRT have never taken action for overstaying, so there must be good reason why its still here. Today it was facing the opposite direction to what we have seen it in the past. I don't know if anyone actually lives under all that?DSCF9488

At Hurleston Junction we could see a space on the far end of the visitor moorings, just in front of a boat we use to moor with on the Middle Level, Ray and his little Staffy, Bones. so we tucked in close in front of him just as it started to rain. This canal is well known for what is called the Shroppie Shelf, the bottom of the concrete edging protrudes out about 2 foot under the surface by a few inches. One way to stop the boat rubbing on this is to float wheelbarrow wheels between the hull and the edge, we had just deployed these and Diana was adjusting the bow rope when she slipped off the foredeck into the canal between the bows and the edge probably helped by the rain that was now falling. Ray and I helped her out, it was quite deep but she stood on the Shroppie Ledge which helped, However she has given her knee a good twist or bang, its not swollen but hurts when she walks, so its light duties for a bit.

Today's Journey map 4010½miles & 15 locks in 6¼ hours

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Adderley Tuesday 26 September 2017

Last night while checking the engine I realised that the oil and filter change were over due, also topping up the batteries. I do these every 250 hours and now we were just short of 300, so a job for today.

As we were moored opposite The Wharf Tavern we went there to eat last night, to say they are not stingy with their portion size would be and under statement, starter and sweet were not required. They had 3 beers on the pumps, Doom Bar, Joules and one I didn't know but it was an IPA and tasted OK.

This morning we set of in sunshine at quarter to ten and had a good run down to Market Drayton where we stopped to sort the engine/batteries and Diana did a bit of shopping.

The house at the top of the Tyrley Locks looked very attractive inDSCF9464
the sun shine. A boater there who was taking water, the water point is right by the top lock, kindly opened the top gate for us so we could go straight in. The houses by the lock as well as having some interesting herbs right beside the lock also has the wagon on the front lawn.DSCF9465

We were soon down the flight with Diana setting ahead and me closing up, we were able to leave the bottom lock open as a boat approached just as we were getting ready to leave. As I said we stopped on the visitor moorings in Market Drayton, the moorings run all the way along the tow path opposite these herring bone long term moorings.DSCF9468One of the boats on the long term moorings has a notice on the bow asking people not to moor opposite. CRT took these moorings over a couple of years ago and have done a lot of work improving them with new surface on the pontoons, electricity points at each one and even dredging them out.

Just to the other side on Market Drayton is Victoria Wharf and the back ends of a couple of boats there caught my eye.DSCF9470 The first was fitted with an Axiom Propeller which are supposed to improve the handling and stopping power of the boat, the other was another steel boat that had no rear swim at all, just a square profile and an electric outboard mounted on the rudder. DSCF9471All a bit chalk and cheese I thought.

When we arrived at Adderley Locks there was a boat just about to enter the top lock so I stopped on the lock mooring to let Diana off and lend a hand with the lock. When it was our turn to enter the lock the bows of Harnser was hard aground on something. I took full power in reverse, me rocking the boat from side to side and Diana plus the couple off the boat behind pushing the bows to get us off. We followed the other boat down, I was able to back set the second lock but after that I couldn't see far enough ahead to turn locks. Once at the bottom we moored on the 2 Day moorings for the night.
The lock moorings below the locks flight are still fenced off, its not plastic mesh but wire on wooden posts,DSCF9472 I know it was like this the last two times we have been this way so I do wonder how long it has been like it and when its likely to get fixed.

Today's Journey map 39 7¼ miles, 10 locks in 3¾ hours