Sunday 29 July 2018

July 25-29: Ellesmere Port back to Nantwich

Wednesday 25 July Back to Annie at Ellesmere Port
Today was spent travelling by car to see Flo in Nottingham, where we left our car. Using our Two Travel Together Railcard, we travelled via five trains to Stockport, Crewe, Chester, Hooton and Ellesmere Port! It was ok, and we enjoyed the varied scenery, with waits being short in between trains. Walking half a mile to the Boat Museum, we had a snack in the cafe. The fridge had been switched off as the inverter indicated “low batt”, probably because the solar panels had not kept the batteries charged enough. Once this had happened, we guess the batteries did charge up, as they were at 100%! …. at least, that's our theory! A friendly Holiday Inn employee told us it was a quiet night there, so we stayed put.

Thursday 26 July Ellesmere Port Boat Museum to Chester (9 m iles, 5 locks)
We like to support the National Waterways Museum/Boat Museum: The tickets can be reused for a year, here and in Gloucester, too. Passing up the two narrow locks, which had rather stiff paddle gear, surprisingly, John squeezed Annie past the trip boat moored outside the cafe and we set off, passing only one moving boat all the way to Chester.
leaving our mooring - Holiday inn on left

approaching the lock

looking back at concrete Mersey flat and our mooring in the lower basin

Boat Museum top lock

Liana operating the top lock

avoiding the trip boat as we left the lock

Past oil storage depots and large sewerage works, under both M56 and M53 motorways, Chester Zoo is hidden from view as you pass bridge 134. After bridge 133 and before the impressive ston railway aqueduct, we spotted a cow in the canal, unable to get out because of black rubber and wooden post type piling, Liana phoned police (not interested) and RSPCA, who took details. We did what we could. Reaching Chester, we passed Taylor's Boatyard, with three old wooden cruisers on the slips, and moored beyond the dry dock, within which two narrowboats were being welded and blacked. John emptied all the loo holding tanks at the nearby Elsan point, and we watered up at the water point by the dry dock.
As Liana wanted to shop at Tescos, we continued past Telford's Warehouse and up the triple staircase, watched by helpful tourists. Liana found the paddle gear hard work, though. Water rushed over the bottom chamber's leaky top gates like Niagara Falls, so John kept Annie well back.
triple staircase at Chester

Conversely, once in the middle chamber, when full it seemed about 50cm low to John. He still managed to get Annie into the top chamber, but deep draughted boats may need to let some water down through the top chamber top paddle, maybe, to raise the water level.
Mooring near Tesco, we were glad to get inside Tescos to cool, as Liana was overheating!
We finished the day with salad and red wine for tea, relaxing in the cratch and watching the world go by.

Friday 27 July at Chester near Tesco and to Christleton (2 miles, 5 locks)
The beautifully sunny morning saw us brealfasting, watching loads of people walking past, going to work or language school, tourists and dog walking. We spent a leisurely morning in Chester, shopping, buying a new gas kettle (to take pressure off the batteries) and enjoying a Costa coffee.

Chester is lovely to walk round
After lunch, we set off to Hoole Lane Lock, to find the top gates wide open. Liana closed them so we could go up, guessing the wide Mill Hotel restaurant boat had left them open. Sure enough, they returned as we were leaving the lock. The man said they had “left the bottom gates of the next lock open for us”. Arriving at Chemistry Lock, we found that a boat coming down had had to close the bottom gates to do so. We waited and helped. The restaurant boat had caused extra work to both ourselves and the other boat, which some might consider a little selfish, in an age where the norm is to close both sets of gates before leaving a lock behind. They are big, heavy gates and slow filling locks, too. An approaching boat meant we could leave the top gates open as we left Greenfield lock. The canal hereabouts is rural, with large overhanging ash and willow trees. Three hours later we moored at the Cheshire Cat (Vintage Inns) moorings, Christleton, again. It was still hot, so we had a belated Wedding Anniversary meal there, outside. When John reminded staff after a long wait for sweets, Liana got a ginormous Eton Mess!
John's sharer cheeseboard was uninspiring, with six tiny but nice crackers and “three cheeses” all being pale or red cheddar in plastic wrappers! He was glad he wasn't sharing the crackers! We relaxed watching tv.

Saturday 28 July Christleton south to Calveley (11 miles, 6 locks)
Up late, but refreshed, we set off about 0900, past the Wirral Trust Community boat and a day boat, which were just setting off – cheery waves all round!
leaving the Cheshire Cat

waterside gardens
We wore jumpers for the first time in weeks. The strong breeze whipped dark clouds across the sky quickly, obscuring the sun, with occasional brief splashes of warm sunshine as blue sky allowed the sun to appear.

the hill is a WW2 fuel store
The first eight miles were lock free, so Liana did some boat work and puzzles until Wharton's Lock, which we shared with NB Pyxis, an Aintree beetle boat bought recently to enjoy before and during retirement by her pleasant owners. It took forever, after which we had a deli/salad lunch and filled up with 204 litres of diesel (70p @0%, £1.20 @ 100%) at Chas Harden's boatyard below Beeston Iron Lock.
fuelling at Chas Harden's Boatyard

Beeston Iron Lock

This time, we went up it alone, got soaked by a sudden storm, and moored. The rain stopped, Pyxis came past, so we dashed to join them in the Beeston Stone lock and Tilstone Bank lock. A hireboat entered Bunbury staircase ahead of us, with boater having first lock lesson. All went well, and we had a nice chat with boater and her tutor. Annie was caught by a strong gust of wind as she left the lock, so Liana “missed the boat” and had to join after the moorings. Mooring at Calveley, before the bridge, we watched Lewis Hamilton gain pole position in the Hungarian GP qualification.

Sunday 29 July A rainy day in Cheshire: South to Nantwich (5 ½ miles, 0 locks)
Mum/mum-in-law Flo's 88th birthday today, God Bless her! Sarah, Sister Ali and brother David and family are visiting, so Liana will try to phone her mum later.
We woke up to the sound of wind and rain, for a change! John made tea and got out the fruit loaf, after which we settled in to write up ship's log (Liana) and blog (John). The forecast was not good for today, but we only have 5 ½ miles to travel to Nantwich past Barbridge and Hurleston Junctions, ready to pick up Carson and sons George and Josh tomorrow :)
Dodging most of the rain, we took our time and enjoyed the lockless journey, passing loads of other boaters who had also set off in the sunny intervals, travelling North.
jumper and gilet again

Barbridge Junction: You can wind by bridge 16 before the breach

Liana roof cleaning at Hurleston Junction

Liana finishing off the roof as we pass Nantwich Marina

moored at Nantwich

July 10-14: From Christleton to Chester and on to Ellesmere Port Boat Museum INCOMPLETE

Tuesday July 10: Back to Annie at Christleton
Brother Phillip's Birthday! We had chatted with him the day before, so tidied up and drove to Nottingham to see Flo, then drove on to Christleton, where we left the car at the Cheshire Cat: They didn't seem to mind when Liana asked :) We enjoyed pate on toast there before  having a quiet night on Annie.

Wednesday 11 July:  From Christleton to Chester by Tesco

Thursday 12 July: From Chester to the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port

Santa arrived at the Holiday Inn by narrowboat for a special July Yuletide event. We played "guess the song from the bass line" until gone midnight ....

Friday 13 July: at the Boat Museum
We always enjoy visiting the National Waterways Museum / Boat Museum. This time we were very impressed with the improvements to the exhibits: Many had modern electronic interaction with visitors. Rotting boats had been removed to a nearby warehouse to aid their restoration. The concrete Mersey flat was floating in the lower basin, close by our own mooring in front of the Holiday Inn, built on the site of warehouses destroyed by fire, sadly.
Today was a wedding at the Holiday Inn, so the music continued until after 1am, which was a bit too long for us: I suspect we won't sleep here again.

Saturday 14 July: Home again!
We decided to pay £4 a night to leave Annie at the Boat Museum while we went home to chill on Sunday; haircuts Monday plus see friends; go mad at the garden; makeover sister Dianne's garden; see the family;  celebrate Rachel's and Flo's birthdays at Nottingham; and move Jo's furniture home from Cardiff before she goes to Australia! Busy, busy, busy!
The 8X bus took us back to Chester, then the bus to our car  at Christleton, as the train would be ages.

Monday 9 July 2018

6-8 July 2018: Northwards from Nantwich to Chester

Friday 6 July 2018: Nantwich (1 mile, 0 locks)
We have had a few days in Cardiff, supporting our daughter Jo, who was being interviewed for a Consultant Anaesthetist job. Sadly, she didn't get it, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger! She was told that her interview was very good by one panellist, so as biased parents we figure they were frightened by her brilliance! She has great plans for the next year, so go for it, Joanna!
We had a difficult four hour journey back to Annie at Nantwich, so filled up with food and drink at Morrisons, before moving Annie towards the car, loading up at the aqueduct, and moving just out of town for a sunny evening watching Belgium beat Brazil in the World Cup: What a game!

Saturday 7 July 2018: Nantwich to Bunbury Iron Lock (7 miles, 4 locks)
John reversed to the nearby winding hold and winded, before idling past all the moored boats, over Nantwich Aqueduct, past Nantwich Marina and Nantwich & Border Counties Yachting Club through sunburnt countryside to Barbridge Junction. Lambs were quenching their thirst in the canal. There seemed to be a few dodgy steerers around this morning: four elderly ladies sharing the tiller, were keeping to the left, and John had to stop and reverse for them; two boats came out 30 yards in front of us, causing more manoeuvring. One let us past, eventually, not that we were in a hurry. At Bunbury double staircase Locks, the two volunteers had us go down with another boat and cross over with a third, which we have never done before!As the chambers levelled, we were shuffled!: One boat moved forward into the bottom lock (beside the boat coming up), we moved sideways to take their place, while the third coming up moved forward into Annie's old position. Interesting!
We moved gently to Tilstone Lock and Beeston Stone Lock, taking our time in the strong sun. As we couldn't get a tv signal for the England v Sweden soccer match, we moved on to just above Beeston Iron Lock, where Liana met a particularly idle young man: He and his young lady sat beside their boat moored on the lower lock landing, and didn't help with the boat going down ahead of us. When Liana started to close the bottom gates before filling it, he shouted that they were coming up, and could she shut the gates once he was in, as he was single handed! Odd, as his lady was present. When Liana did, he stayed on his boat and asked her to do the lock for them! Liana returned to Annie, in disgust, to find I had got a tv signal, so we reversed off the lock moorings, moored and sorted the tv for the England v Sweden World Cup match. When the young man and his companion left the lock, they left the top gates open, so John pointed out the error of his ways to the young man, politely. Luckily, there are not too many boaters like that.
What a great England performance! England 2 Sweden 0, a well deserved victory :)
We decided to chill and watch the Russia v Croatia match, too. This World Cup has been really good.

Sunday 8 July: Bunbury to Christleton near Chester (8 miles, 2 locks)
Up in the relative cool of the morning, we shared Bunbury iron lock, to see if we could fit: Although it recommends one boat at a time, we fitted with inches to spare. There are horizontal projections and the lock probably narrows as you go down, but we were ok. Liana let the water out slowly, just in case! On the left you pass a huge artificial hill, once a World War II secret fuel store. Now, small  concrete doorways hint at the complex below. One more lock together, then miles of flat countryside to the outskirts of Chester. Beeston castle stands proudly on a high hill as you pass. Two miles of moored boats alongside a farmer's fields seemed excessive to us: Maybe there should be a maximum length before people have to build a marina so boats are moored offline? Also, there is clearly little regulation of boats moored in this way: Liana counted 52 out of 104 boats not displaying current CRT licenses, which must cost CRT tens of thousands of pounds lost. At our boat club, we all have to have current licenses, bought through the club, which gets 5% of the fee. CRT maybe should extend this, rather than trying to remove it, as 95% is much better than 50%, making the farmer take some responsibility in return for the income!
We moored by the Cheshire Cat pub in Christleton, a mile or two before Chester, as advised by local boaters, and enjoyed a Sunday roast.
We decided to collect the car from Nantwich, so caught the hourly 84 bus (from Chester to Nantwich and Crewe) at Littleton, the next village to Christleton, on the A51 road. The nearly 2 mile walk probably did us good!

Wednesday 4 July 2018

28 June - 1 July: Concluding our Llangollen Canal sojourn

Thursday 28 June: Ellesmere to country moorings near bridge 38 before Whitchurch (11 miles, 0 locks, 2 lift bridges)
We slept in, getting off about 1000, reversing out of the arm.
Ellesmere Tunnel

Lutra is Otter in Latin!
This stretch of canal is very pretty, particularly around the meres. The Lyneal Trust have three new boats for handicapped folk, Shropshire Lady, Lass and Maid. Bettisford Boats, the scrapyard near the Prees Branch and farm shop had all gone. We dawdled along in the sun until shade, red wine, reading and World Cup called at country moorings. Another lovely day!
Liana sunning herself at mooring by bridge 3 Llangollen Canal
England's reserves lost 1-0 to Belgium's reserves, but it may not be a bad thing, looking at the draw :)

Friday 29 June: Whitchurch to Wrenbury (9 miles, 10 locks, 5 swing bridges)
Our shady country mooring between bridges 38 and 37 was lovely. Blue skies mean cool air in the early morning. John made himself a full English breakfast after being woken at 0700 by a boat! Liana was tempted up by tea, eventually, so we set off about 0800 for Whitchurch, sharing lift bridge work with hireboaters returning their boat to the Whitchurch ABC base. Poor Liana banged her head on one of them. At the triple staircase locks we were third in the queue, and emptied loo holding tanks plus rubbish. The volunteer got us down quickly, as no one arrived to come up. Tea was welcome after Quoisley lock. We nearly had a head on collision at blind bend bridge 25: John gave a long honk, heard no reply, so continued, only to see a boat appear: Cue lots of reversing!! We managed to avoid a bump. The two experienced boaters (they said) hadn't sounded their horn or responded to ours …. ah well, these things happen! There were plenty of cheerful and helpful boaters to chat to as we passed through ten locks and lift bridges to shady moorings after Wrenbury lift bridge. Liana guided us to the Cotton Arms for drinks. Well done, that woman! We found we could return to the boat via the caravan park behind it. Shade, reading and red wine seemed sensible :)
Walkers recommended the pies at the Dusty Miller pub by the swing bridge, so guess where we are now! Happy days!

Saturday 30 June 2018: Wrenbury to Hurleston (6 miles, 9 locks, 1 lift bridge)

It's a lovely stretch of countryside between Wrenbury and Hurleston, particularly in the sunshine. We didn't rush, taking care on blind bends and bridgeholes on corners, which was a good job as we met a number of boats at these places! The offside is overgrown in places, making the canal narrow. We chatted to boaters at many of the three Baddiley and two Swanley locks, then moored up for diesel at Swanley Marina. We got only 50 litres, as it was 86p at 0%. The friendly shop staff have souvenirs and limited boater stuff, including fenders, windlasses and mooring pins, as you might expect. You can pump out, too. We got water above the Hurleston locks, but the services were otherwise out of order. Strangely, there were no lock keepers at Hurleston locks, a first. The boat ahead of us left bottom gates open, shouting that they were crossing over with someone: Not for three locks, I think!! Annie had to wait, plus the boats behind. Oh yes, in the third lock, John opened the offside bottom gate twice (Liana was helping at the bottom lock) but it closed each time he returned to Annie :/ , so he couldn't leave the lock until the good folk behind arrived! The good news was that the Baked on Board pizza boat was moored at the bottom, so we moored round the corner for the night and had really nice oven-baked pizzas from the friendly fellows who run it. Yum! We had to eat and sit in the shade, it was so hot!

Sunday 1 July 2018: to Nantwich and getting the car (2 miles, 0 locks)

Another glorious day saw us travel the two miles into Nantwich in the morning sun. There was a constant procession of boats passing us, heading to Hurleston – over twenty in that short distance! Mooring opposite the Nantwich Marina Wharf, we decided to leave Annie and catch the train to Rugeley Trent Valley station via Crewe, using our “Two travel Together” railcard. You walk about 1.5 miles through town to the station, which was good for us. Station Adopter volunteers were planting and watering in flowers as we waited, doing a good job. As the ticket machine was broken, we paid £22 on the train, which seemed fine, especially as trainline said it would be £16.50 each! At Rugeley, we walked the mile to the car, which was fine, thankfully. We filled up with diesel,127p now :( ,and checked the tyres, which was a good job, as they were low. Driving the car the 44 miles back to Nantwich was a pleasant change!
There is a layby to leave cars close by the Nantwich Aqueduct. We had another tasty pizza each from the “Baked on Board” pizza boat moored next to us. They have a half ton pizza oven under the cratch, a sight to behold: It looks like a giant egg! If you see them, try one! (Baked on Board wood fired pizza 07919 374233
We watched +1 tv to catch Lewis Hamilton's engine going pop at the Austrian GP. Later, We were astonished to watch Russia knock out Spain in the World Cup – it went to penalties, as did the Croatia Denmark match later. Croatia will play Russia in the Quarter Finals!