Friday, 29 August 2014

Our last trip in Doublefracture.

Thursday the 21st-August we move through Alrewas,After the quite time at Fradley we found our selves fourth in a Que for the lock on to the river section. When we finally got our turn we carried on through Wychnor lock to Barton turns. We called into the Marina for a pump out. Leaving we had the same problem we have always had, the wind kept blowing us back onto the mooring. After several tries we managed to leave the Marina and moor outside for the night. In the evening we took the boys to the pub for a meal. Friday we did the last stretch for the boys down to Shobnel fields where on Saturday morning I took then from Burton on Trent station to Derby and put them on a train to London. In London they would be met by Stephen and taken to Wembley for the callange cup final between Castleford and Leeds. When I got back from Derby Marlene and I left for Willington where we were to meet Nathan who had come in a van to move our belongings off the boat and into a bungalow. After a little over nine years we are going back to live ashore. We returned to the boat on the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday. This would be our last trip, taking us down to Sawley where tomorrow Doublefracture will go on to the sales mooring and Pamela will pick us up and take us to our new life ashore. So,all that is left to say is thank you for following our travels over the last five years. We have enjoyed every minute of it, but we now feel it is time to move on. Bye and thanks again. Mick and Marlene.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Stoke to Fradley

Sorry for the lack of posts but the signal has been shocking since Stoke. Stephen and the boys arrived at Stoke on the 13th-Aug ready to take us down the five locks a drop of 50ft. My neck felt better but I didn't want to risk setting it off again. The morning was good but with the threat of showers. Wile Stephen and the boys did the locks in good time with Marlene on the tiller and me below preparing a Lasagne for our dinner. One more lock at Trentham then moored at Barlston for lunch, just as the first shower hit. Good timing. Four more locks on the Meaford Flight a further drop of 32ft 6ins. Before we knew it we were mooring on the edge of Stone with easy access to the railway station for Stephen to return home the following day. Friday morning we walked Stephen to the station and saw him on to his train, then we took the boat into Stone and moored near the Star Inn, unusually we didn't go in. On the 15th we went down to Great Hayward and moored above the lock, where we could hear music coming from the Shugborough Estate. Sunday morning we prepared everything for dinner and went into the Shugborough Estate. The music the night before had been an outdoor film day with Frozen in the afternoon and Grease in the evening. We had a nice day finding secret doors in the grounds with different themes behind them. In one was Alice in Wonderland tea party set out. The boys seemed to enjoy the servants quarters then we went down to the farm and Mill, then finally the house it's self before returning to the boat for dinner. From Great Hayward we went down Hayward lock at 4ft 2ins then Colwich lock at 6th 6ins, Max and I walked between the locks while Harry took the tiller under Marlene's instruction. We moored at Worsley Bridge and walked over to the garden park before lunch. That night we moored before the aqueduct on the edge of Rugeley. Shopping in Rugeley the next day, then on through Armitage and Handsacre then mooring in open country for the night. Wednesday we went down through Fradley, which seemed very quiet for the time of year. We moored between Fradley and Alrewas. The boys painted the pole and plank for us while I painted part of the roof. I'll leave it there until tomorrow as I have things to do, then I will bring you bang up to date.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Stuck in Stoke on Trent.

We cruised the few mile from Westport lake to Etruria at the top of Stoke on Trent locks and moored. Walked over to the Toby Carvery at Festival Park to see if we needed to book for Sunday dinner. We didn't so we had a Saturday afternoon drink before returning to the boat for lunch, well it would have been rude not to. I woke up on Sunday morning tried to get out of bed and had a severe pain from the top of my head down my neck to my shoulder. I laid back down. Marlene helped me to sit up and fetched me some Paracetamol. The pain continued with the slightest movement or if I coughed. I phoned the NHS 111 service and after a lot of questions they found me a walk in centre about a mile away in Hanley which is part of Stoke. We walked over to the pub and they phoned a taxi for us. The doctor examined my neck, nearly sending me through the ceiling when he touched it. He told me I had pulled a muscle and prescribed pain killers and Diazepam to relax the Muscle. We still went to the carvery for dinner but i was on Lime and Soda because of the tablets. It is better this morning but not quite ready to do the Stoke flight of five locks. We are due to meet Stephen and the boys in Stone tomorrow,but it looks like they will have to come up to Stoke to help with the locks.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Wednesday we stayed around Church Lawton,relaxing and walking through the woods. The weather was not as bad as forecast,only the odd shower. Away bright and early on Thursday we did the six locks up to the Harecastle Tunnel. Remarkably all the locks were in our favour, then at the tunnel we were allowed straight through after the short talk on safety. We hadn't gone far when I thought I saw something move across the cratch cover,I put it down to a trick of the light and said nothing. Tunnels are strange places,shadows everywhere and water dripping down your neck. Suddenly we had a bright light in front of us as if another boat was coming toward us. As this is a single passage tunnel controlled at both ends we new it couldn't be,then it was back to normal just the light at the end of the tunnel. We were nearly through when both Marlene and I saw something move at the other end of the boat. As we passed out at the far end I asked about the bright light and was told it must have been when the tunnel keeper closed the door of the tunnel,that it reflected my head light back at me. We were moving down toward our Mooring at Westport Lake when we saw the movement on the roof again,it was a mouse. Where it had boarded we don't know but as soonn as we moored we took everything of the roof.we found it in a bag which held out shore line wire. We released it back to the wild no worse for it's trip through the tunnel. We spent yesterday shopping in Tunstall and walking round the lake. Today we move on to the junction with the Caldon Canal at the top of Stoke locks.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A fantastic piece of engineering.

Leaving Middlewich down the Big Lock,leaving Pamela and Nathans car in the pub car park(by arraignment)for the week. We went only a short distance to bridge 176 where there is a mooring with picnic tables and Barbique stands. It was a lovely day so we moored and relaxed in the sun. Pamela, Nathan and the kids did some canoeing before having our Barbique in the evening. Archie and I pitched the tent and camped out that night. Next morning Pamela jogged with the dog for a while and Nathan took Archie and Amberley as far as Broken Cross in the canoe. We moored at Anderton that night and booked our passage on the lift. At ten fifteen next morning we took our place at the lift mooring ready to decend to the river Weaver. What a fantastic piece of engineering it is, originally done with water driven hydraulics, then changed to cables and counter weights and then in 2002 when it was restored put back to hydraulics but oil this time. The restoration cost seven million pounds,half from the Lottary and half from donations. We were only on the Weaver for about an hour before coming back up the lift but what an experience. Mooring at Marbury Country park Wednesday night. Thursday morning we walked round the country park before returning to the picnic site at bridge 176. Nathan and Archie camped out Thursday night. We. Returned to Middlewich Friday morning in heavy rain, in need of a pump out we had to go up the three narrow locks to Middlewich Narrowboats then back down to moor as close to the pub as we could. In the evening we went to the pub for a meal. Saturday Pamela,Nathen and the kids went home. Marlene and I decided to turn the boat around and go back up the three Middlewich locks. The sun was out,however we mistimed it and found our selves behind a few hire boats starting out from their base at the bottom of the locks. The clouds were gathering as we started up the first lock and by the time we got to the top lock the heavens opened and we had thunder and hail stones. We were absolutely soaked within a few minutes. We topped up our diesel at Kings lock Chandelry before going up Kings Lock and mooring and going to the fish shop for our dinner. By this time the sun was out again. From the top of Kings Lock we moved on to Wheelock on Sunday doing four locks. Yesterday morning we set off to start the climb up Malkins Bank, a climb of seventy nine feet six ins. There were five boats in front of us at the bottom lock,but we finally got our turn to start. Part way up the locks we met Hilary and Nigel, friends of ours from Sawley Marina. They were coming down the flight,it was great to catch up with what had all been doing. We did ten locks in all and moored at the top of Hassall Green locks. Today we have done another ten locks and moored at Church Lawton where,in 2009 we went to the harvest festival,were a bit early this year. The forecast is for rain tomorrow so we will probably stay here another night.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Wigan twenty one and beyond.

Leaving Botany Bay after a nice meal at the Lock and Quey the night before, we headed for Wigan locks. We were not going to do the locks on a Sunday so we moored at Haigh Hall and Country park,about a mile and a half from them. Sunday evening we had a pleasant walk round the country park. Monday morning we approached the top of the locks hoping for another boat to share the work down the Twenty one lock flight. Unfortunately the only boat in sight was two locks down. We set off in pursuit. We were gaining on them and by lock three I had caught their eye so they waited for us. Harry and David were a great help. Harry tied both boats together so Marlene and him went in and out of the locks together and at one point he left Marlene in charge of both boats. Lower down the flight we were helped by two men from the Canal and River Trust. So all in all the three and a half hours were good. On to the Leigh branch where the only two locks before Middlewich took us an hour they leaked that badly.we stopped for lunch next to the lake then carried on to Dover bridge and moored for the night. We try to moor away from other people so if we have to run the engine we don't annoy anybody,but,in lots of cases people come and moor behind us. On the next day to Worsley where I left my hammer on the canal bank. Then it was down through Lymm where all the moorings were full so we had to moor out of town. On to Preston Brook tunnel and the two shorter tunnels that we did on the way up. We moored at Anderton and watched the the lift in operation. By coincidence Stephen phoned and said he had just been reading about the lift and the Stanley Arms, which we were moored opposite. A slow days took us to Middlewich where today we met Pamela,Nathan and the Grandchidren,the are with us till next Saturday. Marlene decorated the boat with balloons and a Happy Birthday banner for Archies Birthday, they have taken Archie to the cinema to see How to Train your Dragon two. Amberley is with us and asleep in her pushchair. Tomorrow we turn round and head back to Anderton to take the boat down the lift on to the river Weaver and back.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Would you believe it.

The seven Barrowford locks went quite well till leaving the last one a fender that was hanging over the side caught in the lock gate and nearly ripped the solar panels off the roof. We carried on through Nelson and Burnley, the over heating was giving us trouble. If we kept at 1400rpm we seemed ok. This continued so we called in at Reedley Marina to see if they could sort it our. They directed us to Knotts Bridge boatyard and ask for Steve. Arriving there around four o clock we had to wait for the engine to cool down so Steve could look at it. He bled the air out of the system and sent us on a test run,unfortunately the problem persisted. It was now eight o clock so we stayed the morning Steve came and discovered a small leak in some pipe joints,so he tightened every thing up and told me to run the engine out of gear to see if that had fixed it. It hadn't,while trying to puzzle it out Steve noticed that the temperature gauge was rising and falling at intervals. It's an electrical fault he declared where is the sender,he found it and found the nut was lose,he tightened it and the problem was solved. Just one small nut causing all that trouble. We thanked him and paid him then left,only we were pointing the wrong way after our test run. While turning at the first wide spot in the canal we picked up a blue plastic sack in the propeller. Into the weed hatch armed with scissors to cut it away. Finally we were on our way again through Hapton and claton-Le-Moors and twisting our way through Church. The plan was to moor before entering Blackburn,however, we could find nowhere suitable. We asked some people in a boat coming out of Blackburn if there was some where to moor up ahead. They told us to moor at the top of the flight of locks. On arrival at the locks(it was now five o clock)there was no mooring. We defended the six locks and headed out of Blackburn. It had been hot and hard work. We finally moored at seven o clock,shattered. Today we have had no problems except the rain. We left at ten and arrived at the seven lock Johnson's Hill flight and found our selves sharing with a small cruiser,he was very nervous going into the locks with us. All went well part from the heavy downpour which soaked us all. We moored outside Botany Bay for lunch and stayed for the night. Botany Bay is a shopping centre in an old mill just off the M61 at Chorley.