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.