Monday, 14 December 2009

Christmas Shopping.

On Saturday we arrived back at the boat after two week visiting first Pamela and then Stephen. Before that we had been up to Yorkshire visiting Richard and my mother.
Yesterday we got itchy feet and with the sun shinning decided to take the boat down to Burton-upon-Trent to do some Christmas shopping. It was nice to be moving again. Leaving around 10-o clock it took us two hours to reach Burton, mooring at Shobnall next to Marston's brewery. At one time there were 31 breweries in the town, producing 3 million barrels a year. Not bad considering it all started with the monks at Burton Abbey,apparently the water here abouts is good for brewing. We were in town most of the afternoon, it was very busy, not my idea of fun but it's done now.
Staying over night we set off back this morning. The sun had not come out today and we had a few showers, plus it was alot colder. Still, we are a hardy couple and enjoyed the trip back, surprisingly we saw a few more boats out and about. while out we took the chance to stock up on wood for the stove,there are plenty of fallen branches along the canal. The down side is I have to cut them into logs with a bush saw. Perhaps I should invest in a chain saw. We are now back moored in the marina for the rest of the week before going to Pamela's for Christmas, So, from Marlene and me a very Merry Christmas to all our followers and we will be back in the new year.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Winter Mooring.

Slipping our moorings on Saturday morning at 8am we dropped down the Fradley Locks a descent of 35ft 8ins.Next stop Alrewas. The weather forecast for Sunday was heavy rain and high winds ,so the decision was made to go into the marina at Barton a day earlier than planned.The last thing we needed was to enter a strange boat yard in high winds. After a brief stop in Alrewas for shopping we continued on to the marina, arriving mid afternoon. At the office we booked in and received our berth number(pier 5-291),we found it without any problem and moored in our winter home.Later we took a walk round checking out the shops and facilities ending in the pub for a pint.Then it was back to the boat for the evening.When night descended the water front and shops were lit,it looked lovely.
It has been a great summer touring the Northern canals,now we have to catch up on some visiting and prepare for Christmas. In the new year we are going to Cyprus for three weeks.Weather and stoppages permitting we shall start our tour of the southern canals in April.All that's left is to thank you for reading our blog and hope you will join us again next year.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Fradley Junction.

Thursday morning we left Great Haywood heading for Fradley Junction. First though we stopped off in Rugeley to do some shopping.The town is small but has most of what a traveler might need,including a market on Thursdays,although it was a very small market. Lunch was late after wandering round town and the supermarket was busy.Leaving Rugeley past the power station and on to Armitage. Before arriving at Armitage we past through a narrow section of canal that used to be Armitage Tunnel,now the top has been taken off the tunnel. It was getting late and due to the dark nights we moored up just before bridge 59 at Handsacre.
This morning after cutting up some logs we continued on our way to Fradley Junction. We moored just before the top lock at Fradley,in the open so Marlene could dry some washing. In the afternoon we walked down to the junction then along the Coventry Canal to the first bridge, where we took the road back to Fradley. As we past the Swan inn Marlene went into the shop next door and bought us an ice cream.
Tomorrow is the day we head in to our winter mooring at Barton Marina.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Third Time Lucky.

On Tuesday we waited at the mooring in Great Haywood for the arrival of our son Richard,his wife Gill and the four grandchildren. They arrived about 4-o-clock,and the kids started to put up two tents for them to sleep in. It was nearly dark by the time they had finished. We played Scrabble while we waited for 11pm so we could phone the flight line to see if the balloon flight was on. I phoned and was told the morning was off but to phone at 11am today to see if it was good for the afternoon.
This morning we all went for a walk round Shrugborough Hall until it was time to phone,we left the tents up to dry out. Arriving back we had a note from British Waterways telling us to take the tents down,we did.Then it was time to phone, it was good news, the flight was on for 2pm at Amerton Farm near Weston. We finally lifted off at 3-20pm. It was a lovely experience, flying at a height of 2,600ft over the Staffordshire countryside, below we saw a lorry overturned and a very large traffic jam. After 55mins we landed in a field near Sudbury 22kilometers from our launch site. the landing was good and the basket stayed upright, showing the skill of our pilot Max.Back at the boat we had some tea then Richard and Gill and the kids left for home. The end of a perfect day.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Darker Evenings.

Yesterday we headed back up the Staffs and Worcester as far as Tixell Wide where we moored for the night. It's a lovely peaceful mooring away from roads and trains. Now the clocks have gone back we are using more power,as a consequence the solar panels are struggling to keep our batteries topped up,so we have to run the engine even when we don't move for a day.We are also collecting wood so we can have a fire in the evenings.
Today we only travelled as far as Great Haywood,where we had to queue to top up our water. As we turned out of the junction onto the Trent and Mersey there were three boats at the water point and another one waiting, so we held the boat midstream while two boats left then moored for water.
Our intention was to go back to Western ready for our balloon flight,however, Great Haywood is only 15mins away from the launch site so we moored there.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

A Trip into Stafford.

This morning we left Great Haywood and turned down the Staffs and Worcester Canal. It was a morning of showers but only short ones. We past through Tixall Wide, a broad stretch of water. Next we went up Tixall Lock,then round the large sweeping curve round Walton-on-the-Hill until we reached bridge ninety eight(Radford Bridge). Mooring just before the bridge,we then walked the mile and a half into Stafford.
After visiting the bank and doing a bit of shopping we decided to have lunch at the local Weatherspoons pub. It is an interesting pub,as it used to be a cinema. This grade two listed building has been very tastefully restored inside while still remaining like a cinema. After walking back we took the boat down the canal to a winding hole then turned ready to make the trip back to Great Haywood tomorrow.It's been a nice day and Stafford is a very nice town.

Friday, 23 October 2009

A Day at Shrugborough Hall.

On Monday we moved from the 48hr moorings onto the five day moorings,these were below Star lock rather than above. Staying there till Wednesday we had a quiet time reading and driving our selves mad with a jigsaw.We traveled down to Weston on Wednesday staying near the Saracens Head,where on our way up country we had had a meal when my sister Jennifer and husband Malcolm came to see us.
Moving down to Great Haywood Junction yesterday we moored just past the junction,our intention,to visit Shrugborough Hall.On the way down we past a Gipsy caravan near some moorings. So today we walked to the hall,where we spent the whole day looking round the house and Park Farm,a great day out.While there we met one of the guides, a lady who was a boater from Rugeley.We spent some time talking about the canals. I as was looking for a branch of Alliance and Leicester so she suggested a trip into Stafford.The tower in the pictures is the Tower of the Winds,completed in 1765 this replica water clock was once used as a dairy(downstairs) and as a gambling den (upstairs). It stands in the grounds of Shrugborough Hall.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Back in Stone.

On Friday we arrived back in Stone,it is a pleasant town and has a laundrette so we can do a large wash instead of little bits each day. We moored above Star lock which is a 48hr mooring. Yesterday we did our shopping and looked round town. Then in the evening we had a meal and a few drinks in the Star.The choice of real ale was good I finally decided on Marsdons Ploughman's bitter, a dark full bodied ale,just right for an Autumn evening.
This morning after attending church we moved down to the 5day mooring below star lock. We intend to stay here for another three days as we are killing some time before our third attempt at our balloon ride at Amerton Farm near Weston, about five mile from Stone.We intend passing through Weston to Great Haywood for a few days, will keep posting every few days but not doing alot at the moment so wont post every day.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Fifty foot down the Stoke Flight.

Staying at Westport Lake on Tuesday we walked into the nearest town to find a Post Office, we needed to post some birthday cards.Later we walked round the lake and called at the new visitors centre and cafe for a coffee.The centre looks a bit like the ark from one side.In the afternoon we walked back into town(Tunstal)to get our passports sent off as they run out in January.On our return we got talking to a couple from Tasmania who had been here for three years cruising the canals. They were heading to Llangollen for the winter, before heading home next year.
On Wednesday we travelled down through Stoke on Trent, Five locks dropping 50ft. When we got to the third lock it was over run by Japanese tourists,cameras clicked and Doublefracture became the back drop for photos.Clearing Stoke we carried on and moored near the Wedgewood factory,as we had on our journey up this way in June.
Today we had to move as the mooring we were on was only a 24hr mooring.Before we left the mooring while drinking our morning cuppa, we were hit by a hire boat. They were very apologetic.There was no damage to Doublefracture.About ten minutes after leaving us the man came back and gave us a bottle of wine to say sorry. We didn't go far, just to the other side of Barlston,about two mile. It has been a damp and cloudy day.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Harvest Festival.

We had a quiet morning on Sunday, then at 10-30am we attended the harvest festival service at Church Lawton church. It was a lovely service and we were made very welcome.
After the service we walked through the woods at the rear of the church,this took us over to Scholar Green at the side of the Macclesfield Canal, where we called for a couple of pints at the Bleeding Wolf. Then walking down the towpath to Hardings Wood Junction,then returned to the boat down the Trent and Mersey towpath.
This morning we did the last six locks up to Hardings Wood Junction a rise of 54ft 7ins. Found a supermarket and did a good shop(the first since Nantwich).It was then down to Harecastle Tunnel.Luck was with us and we went straight through,delaying lunch by an hour. It took forty minutes through the tunnel,then back out into the sun. Tonight we are moored at Westport Lake,a very picturesque mooring.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Climbing to the Tunnel.

Stayed at Wheelock as we planned, but the bad weather didn't arrive till tea time.In the afternoon we walked some of the local footpaths, then sampled the local fish and chips
Off by 9am this morning,it was to be a day of locks.the locks are narrow but come in pairs,however some have only one working. Some are shut off permanently and some are being repaired. The first few locks were quite deep ,this is the start of the climb up to the Harecastle Tunnel. Once out of the built up area the country side opened up,the weather warm and sunny most of the day. By this evening we had done twenty locks and risen 162ft 2ins.At one point,while I was setting the next lock Marlene wound down the paddles and came out of the lock, shutting the gate behind her(getting far too cocky for her own good).
Tonight we are moored at Church Lawton.Tomorrow we will stay here and do some more walking,hopefully the weather will be kind again.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Quiet Days.

Moved on Wednesday morning,came nice after a slight mist in the morning. Only moved to the edge of Middlewich. Painted some more of the roof(getting there slowly).It was a quiet day through English farm land.
This morning we dropped down Wardle Lock,turning right at the junction to Kings lock Boat yard and Chandlery where we topped up the diesel tank. We needed to pump out but they didn't do it. So turning round we went to Middlewich boats Just under the bridge. Pump out complete we had to reverse back to the junction. I must admit I'm getting better at reversing,I've had some practice this trip.
Back at the junction where we turned round again and ascended Kings Lock. We were now back on the Trent and Mersey canal,this stretch down to Harding's Wood junction is the only stretch we haven't been on before.We cruised to Wheelock then moored for the night. Forecast for tomorrow is rain, so we will probably stay here tomorrow.
With that in mind our next post will be Saturday.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Old Colleague.

On Monday after another trip to the laundrette for Marlene, I set off up to the water point to meet her and get ready to move on. As I was about to move off an old colleague of mine( Dave Woodward and his wife) went by on their boat Dex.We had exchanged a few words on both Saturday and Sunday when We had past their mooring,this morning however we ended up in a queue for the water point so we had a chance to have a good chat. In the mean time Marlene had got fed up with waiting at the water point and came round to where we were moored waiting. in the end Dave and his wife moved to the water point and Marlene and I decided to have lunch first.
After lunch we watered up then went the few mile to Barbridge Junction for the night.It was a nice evening with some high cloud and a bright moon.
This morning we had rain,so we had a late breakfast and waited for it to clear before moving on.Turning right on to the Middlewich Branch really made me feel that our summer was nearing an end. Traveling for about two hours and dropping down two locks we moored, not needing to travel too far each day. In between showers this afternoon we washed the rest of the roof ready for painting. Mid afternoon the rain finally beat us so we settled down for the evening.Our Internet connection here is very good here and I managed to down load some photo's we'd been e-mailed(I'd been trying for a few days).The pictures are The night sky,leaving Minshull lock and Dave's boat taken in March town.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Secret Nuclear Bunker

Friday was a quiet day of getting things ready. At 8-20pm I met our son Stephen and our three Grandsons at Nantwich station.We walked back to the boat and settled then down for the night.
On Saturday morning we all took a walk into Nantwich and had a look round the market and shops.When we got back to the boat we cast off and went down the canal toward Audlem locks. At lunch time we tied up at the top of Hack Green locks which take the canal up 12ft. With lunch eaten and everything cleared away we walked over to the Secret Nuclear Bunker for a look round. The bunker would have been the area command post if a nuclear bomb had been dropped. Now of course it has become a museum of what might have been. It was a very interesting afternoon for children and grown ups alike. The children were kept interested by looking for toy mice and rats in each room,at the end they received a chocolate mouse and a certificate to say they had found the mice and rat. in the evening we moored at the bottom of Audlem locks, had dinner then in the evening went to the Shroppie Fly pub just above lock 13 for some refreshment.Inside the pub is an interesting bar shaped like a narrow boat. There are 15 locks at Audlem rising 93ft,however we stayed at the bottom and this morning returned to Nantwich. At 13.20hrs we said goodbye to Stephen and the boys as they caught there train home. It has been a lovely weekend,now Marlene and I will continue our trip, heading back to our winter mooring at Barton turns for the 1st of November.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Return to Nantwich.

Today we arrived back at Hurlston Junction,dropped down the four locks and turned right to Nantwich. Our reason for returning to Nantwich is that on Friday evening Stephen and the three boys are coming to see us for the weekend.This was a nice surprise when he phoned to tell us on Tuesday.We had left Ellesmere on Tuesday morning arriving back at Grindley Brook around five o clock. After dropping down the six locks we moored in the same place that we had when we picked Pamela,Nathan and Archie up last Friday.We then took all their belongings to the car in the Horse and Jockey car park. then went in for a meal.It is a very friendly pub serving excellent food and good cask ale. After the meal we waved goodbye to Pamela,Nathan and Archie,then went back in for another pint.
On Wednesday we moved on,after four locks and a lift Bridge we moored at Wrenbury for the night.
This morning we negotiated nine locks,including the four at Hurlston. When we arrived at Nantwich Marlene went to the launderette to get the bedding washed. This evening is nice and sunny and at last we have signals on both phones and the Internet.
Back in civilization.Todays pictures are evening at Ellesmere(2)and approaching a lock.

Monday, 28 September 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts this week but since we turned onto the Llangollen we've had no Internet signal until today.
It was Wednesday when we turned up the four locks at Hurlston Junction, Half an hour later we were leaving the top lock having risen 34ft 3ins. During the day we did five more locks each with a rise of around 6ft. We moored for the night at Wrenbury. On Thursday we traveled on to Grindly Brook, where we moored below the flight of locks and waited for Pamela,Nathan and Archie to join us for breakfast on Friday morning. They arrived at 08-45 and after breakfast we all went to Chester Zoo for the day. In the evening we had a meal at the Horse and Jockey,this was where Nathan had arranged to leave his car while we all traveled to see the aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte.
Saturday saw us climbing the six locks at Grindley Brook,the last three a staircase. All six lock gave us a total rise of 38ft 11ins. Having cruised all day (except for a break for lunch and a short walk)we moored just outside Ellsmere for the night.
Our big day had arrived,three tunnels and two aqueducts,the high lite being Telfords Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at 1007ft long and 126ft above the River Dee. It was a long day with queues at the first of the two locks of the day. It is a bit like a pilgrimage with hire boat after hire boat heading up to Llangollen, with just a few privately owned boats mixed in. Some hire firms must give very little instruction on the workings of a lock,Nathan and I ended up locking the boats ahead of us through. On more than one occasion we found open paddles that should have been closed.We didn't go into Llangollen as time was running out(we had to be back at Grindley Brook by Tuesday)so having crossed the aqueduct we turned round and recrossed it before mooring for the night. This morning we left for the return journey, because of the flow of the canal(from west to east)we got back to Ellsmere an hour quicker. Tomorrow we head back to Grindley Brook where Pamela,Nathan and Archie Will pick up thier car and drive home. Where as Marlene and I will head back to Hurlston Junction. We will do the next post as soon as we can get on line.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Return to Barbridge Junction.

On Saturday afternoon we left Chester,doing the five locks rising 35ft.on the way up we met a hen party going into Chester for the night,later we met a stag party heading in the same direction. We carried on to Waverton before mooring for the night.When we woke up on Sunday morning there was a camping trailer parked on the car park next to the mooring but no car to pull it.
Staying at Waverton on Sunday we did some painting and made a start on scrubbing down the boat roof.The weather was kind to us os we got plenty done.Two people emerged from the camping trailer and went off on bikes returning later with a car.
On Monday morning Marlene went to the hairdressers,we then carried on to Wharton lock(just below Beeston Castle). Up by the lock we found a Damson tree so we picked 2lb of fruit so we could make some jam.
This morning after making three jars of Damson jam we left for Barbridge Junction.There were six locks on route which we paired up with another boat. Second lock of the six is Iron Lock which you have to do one boat at a time as it is slightly narrow. The two last locks are a staircase,at the top we said goodbye to Tony and Mo on Elamiah. Thanks to both of them for making our morning easier and very pleasant. Stopping for lunch at Calveley we had a look at the floating gift shop run by Mel and Ivor Batchelor.We first came across this shop when we took a holiday on the Hotel boat Shirley Ann. Tonight we are moored at Barbridge Junction and are taking a walk to the pub. Tomorrow the Llangollan.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


This morning we did our shopping,had coffee then went exploring.Chester is a walled city dating back to Roman times.Much of the wall is still standing and is a good way to walk round this small but interesting city. Above the river Dee are the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre,and at the side of that is St Johns Church. originally the city cathedral, St Johns is a lovely Church standing out side the walls. In side the walls is the much larger Cathedral that was built to replace St Johns.
Chester Castle was a little disappointing as there is not a lot to see, what there is is surrounded by more modern buildings. In the centre of town is a very ornate clock high above the street,it was done for Queen Victoria.There is a mix of buildings old and not so old, with narrow alleys with restaurants and coffee shops. All in all an interesting city.The two pictures of stain glass windows are in St Johns Church,not the Cathedral.