Monday, 28 July 2014

Tomorrow is another (rest) day!

Wednesday 23rd July to Monday 28th July 2014

We had been told by a number of people that the moorings at Vale Royal were terrific and when we passed them on Tuesday they looked extremely inviting; so that was where we would head to.

There was the little matter of winding, but being on a river meant that it really wasn't much of a problem - plenty of width and the depth was OK as well, so we simply left the front rope tied and swung around - presto, we were facing back down the river.

Our destination was to be the much praised Vale Royal moorings which we had seen and passed the previous day.
There had been just the one boat moored there the day before and as we approached we could see a clear length and we had the full selection of spots to moor up - the final decision was based on best TV signal which unfortunately did not include ITV4, so it was to be le Tour on live streaming again.
We wandered back for a closer look at Vale Royal Lock....

...the by-wash - through an old single lock... old stone from a long gone building -
oh, and Diane upon it

posing on the swing bridge over the lock
The moorings are on the eastern side of the river and with a clear view west we had the full sun on both days that we stayed - the amps were certainly flowing freely into the batteries.
A full hot sun and we attempted to alleviate some of the impact with poistioning of umbrellas to give at least some shade and by-and-large we were reasonably successful.
mooing at Vale Royal - extremely sunny....

....misty in the morning...

....sunny again in the afternoon

a bit of relief as we walked
Time to move on and so down the two locks that we had come through earlier and through to Northwich - moorings were available but we were more concerned with water and elsan as well as clearing the rubbish, before moving further along - our aim was to moor up at Barnton Cut.

approaching Saltersford Lock

Luckily there were still a number of places available but we chose the northern end - again without any ITV4 luck at all, but we still saw the race.
Later on we sat outside and chatted with Kathleen and Michael (nb Kerry Rose), whom we had met briefly at Vale Royal. They are a lovely couple and we realised that their children are just few years younger than us, but that did not stop boaters talking about what we do best - well second best - there was no discussion of batteries and toilets.

With it being Saturday - and Stage 20 - we moved along a bit -intending to, moor up at Acton Bridge and remain for Sunday lunch at The Leigh Arms - it had been very good so far with moorings, but here we met the changer - all full and boats breasted up all the way along - except against the cruiser - don't think that they would appreciate nearly 18 tonnes against them (on the outside), so we headed for Dutton Locks and we were in luck - totally free.
Diane's thoughts were that the reason may have something to do with there not being a pub near there.
We pulled behind the MV Concordia look-alike; success with the TV; we only had a mile to walk for the Sunday lunch and it would be cooler on Sunday than Saturday - a chance to rest easier yet again.
Guess which one is moored correctly...

...not the old wreck in the background, oh and some
slimmer bird in the foreground

A nice bit of rain on Saturday evening as well as wind change overnight meant that it was  certainly a welcome relief for us on Sunday morning - cool enough to get stuck into some jobs - having primed the runners for the hatch late on Saturday, they were ready for the finish coat, as were the seats at the back - all freshened up and looking much much better.
Diane removed the front cratch cover - the residue of mooring under trees at Winsford is the resin that lingers behind, so a damn good scrubbing was necessary and that certainly did the trick.
We had already managed to shift the gear taken out of the engine bay back into there except for a few things that sat low on the floor - those too now found their way back and meant that we had regained the space both inside the front cabin and also in the cratch.
Ferndale was looking a lot better and we felt a bit happier with it all as we need to get these things done before our guest arrives.
But it was time for a stroll back to Acton Bridge and the cooler wind made it enjoyable, as did meeting up again with Kathleen and Mike who managed to find a spot at the Acton Bridge moorings - so we all decided to have lunch together.

We had been there once before, 2 years ago and found the food most enjoyable, so it was pleasing to be treated to a similar standard again.
As boaters do we chatted about all sorts of things but as always there is a time to part and we left them to journey back through Saltersford Lock that afternoon and we most likely would meet again around Northwich the following day.
morning light across the still water

Dutton Lock

almost a perfect view from Ferndale towards Dutton Lock

Monday is fasting day on Ferndale so we were able to leave without any complications like breakfast and too many dishes - but there was a nice leisurely cruise back to the lock and after a bit of a wait for another boat we were through - as the lockie pointed out it would be a shame to waste a half million gallons of water by not waiting for the other boat - we were in no rush.

Continuing on we found quite a number of boats heading towards us - all looking good for Northwich moorings, but upon our arrival, there was not one to be had at all.
We contacted Kevin at the marina and asked if we could come in a day early - no problems and just after that we reversed into the nominated spot.
The marina is quite nice and we will be here for a few days, but a problem after we had moored up appeared.
When we turned the battery charger on, it tripped out all of the circuits for the marina - that it affected the whole place was a concern - it should only trip out on the bollard to which we are connected - after a number of attempts we will have to leave it off for this visit and get it checked out - if we cannot find a problem with the charger then we will need to not carry through with the winter visit to Northwich.
We are fine with the panels charging the batteries and the landline providing power for the inverter, but in winter the batteries would surely not survive on the solar panels.
Nothing to be done for now with that, but we walked through the town and on a bit more to the B&Q to pickup some things that we needed for the boat - it is just a mile away so the walk did us good.
Diane also managed to get some shopping in at Peacocks which was right next to the B&Q.
The section around the top of the bath is resealed; the bathroom door closes better and stays closed better; new locks for the steel cable to secure the solar panels - more things to cross off the list.

Finally, this evening we settled down after some long showers to clean off the grime of the last two days - not having to run the engine means no hot water and neither of us relished a cold shower, but we feel a bit cleaner and a bit tired and ready for a bit of taking it easy for tomorrow.

18 Miles, 4 Locks

Totals: 2701 Miles, 2043 Locks, 91 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Friday, 25 July 2014

Along the Weaver

Sunday 20th July to Tuesday 22nd July 2014

Off we headed, not long after 9am, with nb Two Jays in front - our intentions to head towards Anderton - us to go down onto the Weaver; Jim and Joan most probably to have a good look around and join us on Ferndale going down on the boatlift.

This part of the Trent and Mersey, as it winds it's way around Northwich and through the salt works would not be the enticement for someone planning a cruising holiday - it is more a section to be endured; but even saying that is a bit unkind - there are many areas on the system that can be lumped together under the general heading of parts to go through in order to get to somewhere else.

The Two Jays in the distance as we pass around Northwich

Still once through the countryside opens up again and suddenly, Anderton is upon us - we both take advantage of the services mooring to take on water and us to use the Elsan.

We cruised up further to the 24 hour moorings just near to the boatlift and we all head along the towpath to see this wonder of the system.

Downstairs to the booking office - a slot is available in an hour's time - great and we take that one - no charge. Sufficient time to have a cup of coffee before moving the boat up and have the safety talk.
After that it was pretty much time to head in - the gongoozlers were out in force, so not the time to make a mess of entering the holding pound - smoothly through the bridge hole - no touching of the sides, then into the trough before finally entering the caisson to held down.

entering the Anderton caisson

I could tell the both Joan and Jim were looking forward to it - plenty of attention being paid to everything going on around and watching all of the little things that go on.

Joan had a smile as big as Anderton lift

the passengers

There was a bit of a jerky start to the descent, which settled down and the river below was slowly coming up to meet us.
Without any delay the gates rose and we made our way out onto the Weaver, turning left and heading down for a mile or so before returning and mooring up and had a cuppa before we parted ways and waved Joan and Jim goodbye.

about to exit

au revoir

We headed back towards Northwich and moored up opposite the new marina that has appeared since we were last down here. A large Waitrose has also appeared behind the marina and there is plenty of building going on - a complete renaissance in Northwich - a town trying hard to shake off the appearance and reputation of it's past.

moored up in Northwich

As it was Sunday we didn't expect much to be open as we headed out a bit after 5pm - and we were right.
We stopped at 'spoons for something to eat and then walked around the town - to parts of it that we hadn't seen before.
By the end we found about 10 pubs, 6 supermarkets, signs to the station (easy walking distance), an Enterprise car rental site; markets; a bus interchange station and really all of the things that you would be looking for in a place to moor for a bit over winter.

mmm, a plan appears to be hatching as we walked.

By Monday morning we had thought about it again; we needed to check out the marina for prices - that was fine; elsan; showers available and diesel can be delivered by Renaissance Canal Traders.
It will be dependant on the conditions but we might very well come down onto the Weaver for a month or so in January - we haven't found a reason not to - and everything is virtually a 5-10 minute walk from the marina.

Monday was also the rest day for le Tour, so that meant I could get another coat done in the engine bay, which was done - so nearly all done and then everything that has been stored in all sorts of places inside, will find themselves relocated back to below decks with the engine and we will be able to move again.

We still wanted to explore a bit more of the Weaver and so headed off towards Winsford on Tuesday. First of all, it was a call to the lockie to let him know that we would be heading his way and ask when would it be a suitable time - that done we were able to untie and head off virtually straight away; a short delay, but a chance to chat about what to expect further along.
the lock in the distance and just able to squeeze below the bridge
Through Hunt's Lock and then onto Vale Royal Lock - the intervening river section was truly delightful to cruise along.

About to enter Hunt's Lock

the wide open space on the river...
...and the sun as well

Above the second lock were the Vale Royal moorings, where we will head back to.
After that, the industrial side of the river was found and continued almost to Winsford -  there was nothing wrong or unpleasant about the works - just not as pleasant to view as we had seen earlier.

The not so pretty side...

...and the not so ugly side
The moorings at Winsford are outside The Red Lion and can accommodate 2 boats only - we arrived to find them empty - we spent the night as the only boat there.

outside The Red Lion
Winsford itself is another small town suffering and perhaps not seeing a way out; there is a long trek up the hill to the shopping precinct - not a lot to grab me to go back there, but it was adequate - an Aldi and an ASDA to the west and a Morrisons to the east.

We think that the one night will do us and we will head back in the morning!

14 Miles, 2 Locks

Totals: 2683 Miles, 2039 Locks, 91 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Down the Hatch and into the Bay

Wednesday 16th July to Saturday 19th July 2014

We moved along to Middlewich with unclear intentions of whether we might stay more than just the 1 night; nevertheless we did need to stock up on a few things and Diane wanted to sample the wares from the chippy opposite Kings Lock.
She has been baking - the scones were gone pretty quick
and the bread lasted until the following morning.

That all done we didn't get anything else completed whilst we were there - eventually deciding just on the one night. Our intention to head further along to the flashes and spend a few nights up there and then to get stuck into the engine bay painting.

We unmoored (not sure if that really is a proper word) and made for Wardle Lock which seemed to be taking the boat in front an inordinate amount of time to negotiate.
There was a family of "killer" swans at one of the bridges before the lock - they had threatened a lady and dog in front of Diane - she then thought it better to hitch a ride on the boat to get around them.

The lock didn't seem to hold any hidden secrets to it's operation and getting down - the crew on the hire boat behind us being reluctant to even offer any assistance - so be it.

Anyway, we traversed the shortest canal on the system - Wardle - turned the boat around at the junction to face north and then reversed back to the Chandlery for some diesel (81 p/l).
Moored up; waited for the guy to come out (he was quick); filled up; paid for it; untied; and headed off - we passed the junction again just as the hire boat was coming out of the lock - fair to say it was quicker being in front of them than behind - to their credit, they seemed to be having a good time.

Down through the next three locks and then pulled in for water. We could see the lock behind us - now, we have a large tank (900 litres) and it was down to halfway, so there was a fair amount of water needed. I wouldn't say the water pressure was strong (nor was it weak) - we untied and away by the time that the hire boat was through just the second lock.

After that it was through Big Lock and then the aqueduct and onto the flashes - where we moored after Bridge 180A.
The upper Trent is really quite pretty .... an African Queen kind of way
I just cannot resist that smile

The width of the water there resembled Tixall Wide (the depth was slightly less) but it was an extremely pleasant view out of the window.
Looking out across the flash

Towpath dominatrix....

...but later with the family in tow, they just wandered past without
any fuss at all

Sunset - Thursday night

The towpath was not particularly wide at this point - certainly enough to sit out and enjoy the late afternoon sun and listen to the birds and the planes on their way into Manchester airport.

The weather reports were all saying that it was going to be very warm on Friday and rain on Saturday, so it was time to get cracking on the engine bay painting.
These spaces were never ever designed for someone around the 190cm mark to be squeezing down and twisting to reach all sorts of places to place a wet paintbrush to cover the old colour.
At the end of getting about 70% of the area painted, the body was agreeing with the designers - it was too much of a squeeze.

By the time I had finished and cleaned up, there was a welcome surprise to see nb Two Jays with Joan and Jim pulling up behind us.
We knew that they were heading this way but were not exactly sure how close.

We chatted for a bit before heading inside to rest the now aching body, have some lunch and ready ourselves for le Tour.
The lovely Joan striking a pose

Later on when were back outside we were able to chat a bit more - plus I had recovered somewhat and only had half the body sore and aching.
Sunrise Saturday morning

Saturday lived up to the forecast - the rain starting fairly early and not letting up much at all - but there was still the matter of the remaining section of the painting to be done.
So glad that the worst was over - at least I thought that - today's painting was mainly fiddly bits around the Mykuni and other areas which involved even more cramped conditions than the previous day.
Maybe I was getting better at it, because by the end of if I felt nowhere near as bad as I was previously.
More le Tour; Diane's bath day; more chatting with Jim and Joan - by now the rain had gone and it was quite sunny outside.

At least the first is now done - a second will be necessary and there is the question about the area around weedhatch to be resolved - all of which will be completed in this coming week (all going well!).

13 Miles, 7 Locks

Totals: 2669 Miles, 2037 Locks, 91 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

No Ice Cream for you

Saturday 12th July to Tuesday 15th July 2014

We completed the usual chores as we headed off - water, elsan and rubbish - and through the locks to complete the Audlem flight.
Outside the Shroppie Fly getting water.

our first lock for the day

Once through we only had a short cruise and we pulled into Overwater Marina to talk to them about mooring for 3 months whilst we head home.

As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression and I have to say we were well pleased with what we saw.

We managed to talk to Simon in the workshop about the work we want to get done - again we were well pleased with what he had to say.
It is always other things that go on around and things that you overhear which help to fill in gaps in the overall picture, and it was those that made the decision a bit easier.

The upshot is that we have booked for the 3 months that we will be away; paid the deposit and now we don't have to go on looking at that.

A coffee and something to eat in the cafe completed a bit more of the scene - the fact that it was a lovely sunny morning was sheer bliss.

After all of that we headed off again - this time just a further mile up the way to the mooring length between bridges 82 and 83 where the Shropshire Union Canal Society has very kindly provided seats and stands for BBQs.

The weather had been predicted to turn a bit windier, less sunny and a stronger chance of rain in the late afternoon/ early evening - that didn't deter "she" from the desire for a BBQ - as she would say - "it would be rude not to make use of what had been provided".

So the  BBQ came out, fuel and firelighting equipment - presto, it was alight - even in the wind - then it wasn't and finally it was again.
We are getting better at this.
a study in concentration

Without too much charring of the food we did settle down for dinner - the clouds were getting a wee bit darker but fortunately the rain held off until after we had finished and everything was back inside.
It was fortuitous really with the rain - it managed to kill off the hot embers, thereby eliminating the need for us to do anymore about them until morning.

As expected, the play-off for 3rd and 4th in the World Cup went the way of Holland with Brazil giving another insipid performance.

On Sunday, after some moderate rain (it was neither light nor heavy), we set off under grey clouds, but with optimism about it getting better.
We only wanted to go as far as Nantwich for a couple of days.

Approaching Hack Green locks we saw the sign for the secret Nuclear Bunker, but decided that since we would be coming back this way soon it could wait until then, but more importantly there was a boat exiting from the lock.

It what can only be described as the perfect way to do 2 locks, we entered the lock where the gates had been left open; descended; gates opened; another boat coming up and out of the next lock; passed in the pound; entered the lock; descended; gates opened with the help of the person on the boat ready to come up - through in just 10 minutes - why can't they all be like that.

Onward to Nantwich - just 3 miles away.

Our first experience of Nantwich was when we were on a hire boat; came across the embankment in a bad cross wind - a boat approaching wanted to hold in the middle of the canal, we reduced our speed as much as possible with the wind - still they wouldn't move over - result we hit a moored boat - not hard, but we hit it.
We were still too inexperienced to yell obscenities at the offending person.

Since that time, Diane has not held fond memories of cruising Nantwich and now as we approached with the cross wind there were revived memories.

Fortunately we avoided any repeat of our first time - we have learnt to take the line that we needed and the boats coming towards us were more polite in their course as well.
Nantwich aqueduct - from above...

... and from below (that woman is in the photo again)
We moored up at the top of the walkway ramp and made our way into town for a look around and ultimately lunch - it being Sunday.

It was a very lovely lunch at Wilbraham Bar and Grill - the service; the food; and the price.
Sunday lunch - very very nice indeed

It is amazing how the fresh air; the humm of the engine and the general feeling of the freedom you have on the canals, all conspire to make one feel really sleepy - that is what happened again in the afternoon as we sat to watch Stage 9 of le Tour - Diane was only kept awake by the race and my snoring.

Feeling a refreshed after that brief interlude we saw the end of the race, read for a while and then readied ourselves for the WC Final.
Diane found a pattern and created this

Diane suggested that we go out for a walk up to the chandlery to see about a couple of things - all the time promising that we could get an ice-cream when we got there.
The weather had turned again since the morning and it was a glorious sunny day - perfect ice-cream weather, and I was looking forward to one.
obligatory photo with the horse

Somewhere down there is a shop with an ice-cream with my
name on it - pity it was closed

I now understand how she strung the kids along all these years with promises - we got there - the chandlery was closed and so was the bl___y cafe.
No ice cream - I had been dudded!

No chance of falling asleep watching this game - it held your attention as the expectation of a goal at any time remained a probability.
Eventually the goal came and Germany won it's 4th final - well done!
As Australians, we do not have the prevailing view of Germany or Argentina in sporting terms or any other way you may want to look at it - it was a good match -perhaps not a great match - we simply enjoyed the contest!
Sunset on a near perfect day

Back to work for Monday and after getting a lot of that done we headed off.

We were starting to see a lot more boat movement - after all this is a busy canal with so many people doing the ring; the weather was good and it wasn't school holidays just yet (at least I think not yet!)

We neared Hurleston Junction and there were boats in both directions waiting - apparently a boat had got stuck in one of the locks causing a queue of boats down below - I  guess there would have been a queue above the locks as well.

We stopped at Barbridge to take on water - after a short wait for the boat that was just about done we moved across.
spotted this just up from Hurleston junction

Well just as we were ready to leave a couple of boats were coming along, so we decided to allow them to go through.
The first wanted to wind at the junction, the second held back; then there were two more boats coming along; the first had winded and moved back to allow the second to turn the corner - the delay in this meant that by now a boat was coming under the bridge from the Middlewich branch and wanted to turn left to head south.
There were 6 boats there all trying to squeeze through the narrowed space by the water point - where we just wanted to get away from.

Eventually, and with no problems at all, the first three boats - virtually all in the junction cleared away - we weren't waiting for any other boats to come through and truth be known it was better that we moved next anyway. Around the turn we went and all was fine.

So some slow cruising past all of the boats - no need to go quickly as we all knew that getting through Cholmondeston Lock would be slow with boats in numbers all heading that way.
Correct we were indeedly.

There were three boats ahead to go down and boats down below wanting to come up - so a bit of a wait; sunny day by now - who really cares about a delay - and we were all in good spirits.

We moored up just past the marina on the straight just there - far enough away from the railway line.

It was a lovely spot and allowed us to empty out the decks below in the engine bay - the time had come to start preparing the area for painting - also a chance to sort out what was still wanted and what would be leaving us for good.

The area has been treated with Fertan and places found to store everything - all is right with the world.

Oh and I did eventually get my ice-cream
Sums it all up in our boat

12 Miles, 7 Locks

Totals: 2656 Miles, 2030 Locks, 91 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges