Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Piddle on Summer Nights

This week we have done … Rode Heath to Kidsgrove on Trent and Mersey; turned onto the Macclesfield Canal through Congleton, Bosley lock flight, Oakgrove, Macclesfield and now moored at Bolllington.

Now fed up of weekly weather report - more of same for last couple of weeks. Nearly at end of August now and its not been really “summer” weather since middle of July. We even had to light a fire last Monday evening cos it was so cold and chucking it down with rain.

And you’ll be getting fed up of me writing about pubs!! BUT we have been in some good ones with excellent real ales again this week: Fools Nook at Oakgrove was very nice where we sampled a couple of pints of piddle - yes, that’s right - piddle ….. Or to be more precise “Piddle in the Leaves” brewed by the Wyre Piddle Brewery. According to their website …..

The Wyre Piddle Brewery was started in 1992. The original Piddle in the Hole ale was hugely successful and eventually led to another six ales of varying strength and taste being evolved. The brewery supplies direct to selected pubs within a 50 mile radius (of Pershore, Worcs)
The name of the Brewery and it’s ales derives from an old children’s rhyme which was popular in the area around Wyre Piddle village.

Upton Snodsbury, Peopleton and Crowle,
Wyre Piddle, North Piddle
And Piddle in the Hole

And the second brill pub this week is in Bollington, called The Vale Inn. This is a freehouse and brewery tap for the Bollington Brewery which is the local micro brewery now up to brewing 45 casks a week. Last night we had a lovely meal there and a pint of their Summer Nights and one of Long Hop. Maybe we might just wander down again tonight to sample their other two beers available at the moment.

Earlier this week we stopped over at Congleton - a market town which was quite busy with quite a good number of shops. We didn’t stop at Macclesfield as the visitor moorings were just about non-existent. If they don’t want to encourage boaters, then we won’t bother to spend any money there.

Bollington - on the other hand - has lots of visitor moorings and it’s quite a quaint sort of place. The shops are spread out over about a mile on the main road through and amazingly there are 3 butchers and 3 bakeries! We counted about 6 restaurants and were told by a local on the towpath that there are 20 pubs!! (Personally I think that’s a bit of an dream rather than reality, although we have spotted about half-a-dozen.)

Originally Bollington had 13 textile mills - two we saw on the canalside have been renovated into apartments/offices/manufacturing units.

The Mac Canal is beautiful - very rural with lots of cuttings and embankments with the Pennines running by on the west side. Parts are shallow but not causing us any problems.

Our plan now is to move onto the Peak Forest Canal which is where we should be when I write to you again next Wednesday.

Since last blog we have done … 23 miles and 25 locks
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 647 miles and 707 locks.

Bridge 77 on the Mac which is one of several roving bridges known locally as "snake" bridges   In the days of horse-drawn boats, this design of bridge changed the towpath from one side to the other without having to un-hitch the horse.
where was the Wool Boat when I needed it ?
It was light when we went in !

This heron didn't fly away !
fancy a nice canalside home ?
so, I kept seeing gravestones on the towpath.   No, silly me - they're the original mile markers on the Macclesfield Canal.
The first and original Hovis Mill (in Macclesfield).   Don't believe the telly adverts!

typical view on the Mac - beautiful isn't it

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Donkey Romping

This week we have done … rest of Middlewich Arm to Middlewich then turned south onto Trent and Mersey through Wheelock, Hassall Green and now moored at Rode Heath.

Yes, afraid so -- cloud, drizzle, rain and some sun except for Sun and Mon when we had 2 lovely days of hot sunshine.

Some “funny” pubs visited this last week: Middlewich had loads but all not really to our taste but we did sample a couple including The Boars Head which was a Victorian building with many cavenous rooms. Wheelock boasts 3 pubs and it’s a very small place - the strangest was The Commercial Hotel and I haven’t really got words to describe it except that in a funny sort of way it was quite quaint - a “homely” sort of place which was friendly enough but seen better days. The Cheshire Cheese - again - small, friendly and a decent pint. Goodness only knows how 3 pubs survive here as there was hardly anyone in them on a Saturday night !

Then there was The Romping Donkey, complete with ferrets in a cage in the garden - I kid you not ! We did have a meal there which was well worth the one hour wait (they did warn us a delay of 20 minutes). Okay, so it was only standard pub grub but obviously all homemade. Strange that The Romping Donkey was busy and this was a Monday night.

Today we made more jam - blackberry this time - after being scratched and nettled to death and, yes, there was some left over to do some blackberry vodka …. I’ll let you know later how successful flavouring the spirit was - if I remember !

Dai has found a new entertainment - chucking grass cuttings to the swans ….. Well, they love it and it saves at least some from being trampled through the boat. Foxxie not so sure though ---- whenever we feed the wildlife with bread or leftovers, then she has to start creating that she wants it even if she didn’t before. Its amazing how much stale bread she will eat if she thinks the ducks are getting it instead !

Since last blog we have done … 16 miles and 21 locks
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 624 miles and 682 locks.

the cauldron a-hubbling and a-bubbling again - blackberry jam today !

playing footie

watch it Dai - you'll do yourself an injury !

water and beer needed after all that exercise !!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


This week we have done … Coole Pilate to Nantwich on the Shroppie; turn down the Middlewich Arm and now moored just after Minshull Lock near Bridge 8.

Weather report now getting boring ! More of the same - cloud, drizzle, rain and some sun

Well, we beat last week’s mileage by 9 miles and worked 2 more locks ! Today we debated whether or not to turn down the Llangollen Canal or the Middlewich Arm to the Mac and Peak Forest. In some ways it made most sense to do the Llangollen as we were passing. However, this canal is so busy during the summer school holidays ---- and to make matters worse this year, a lot of the hire boat companies have decamped to the Llangollen from the Leeds/Liverpool Canal which closed beginning of Aug due to lack of water. So we going through to the Peak Forest and then maybe turn round and come back to the Llangollen when it quietens down a bit in Autumn.

Main port of call this last week has been Nantwich - quite a bussling (don’t know how else to spell that but it doesn’t look right does it?) market town - many shops including Morrisons and Aldi and a market Tues, Thurs and Sat most of which is indoors. Lots of pubs and restaurants - one of which (The Red Melon) where we celebrated our “Day of Meeting” which was 6 years ago. We always have to have a curry cos that’s what we did on our first date and the Red Melon didn‘t let us down !

I had to travel back to Nottingham last weekend to go to my nephew Richard’s wedding to Rebecca. Caught the train from Nantwich to Crewe to Derby to Nottingham and stayed 2 nights at Mand and Shaunies. It was a lovely wedding and great to spend some time with Amy, my mum, Mand, Shaunie, Samuel and Millie. Got back to the boat Sunday teatime.

Today was Jam Making Day! We picked some wild damsons and made 6 jars of jam which set beautifully and taste yum ! Dai put his fishing skills to very good use by getting out all the stones as it was a-hubbling-and-a-bubbling! The left over damsons went into a crumble. It’s really strange that in some places we see ripe juicy blackberries and only a few yards further on they are just hard green berries. Will be doing some blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry crumble and blackberry vinegar and/or cordial - wonder what blackberry vodka tastes like ?

Since last blog we have done … 11 miles and 4 locks
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 608 miles and 661 locks.

Mand, Ma, Shaunie, Millie and Samuel at the wedding

     me with my two brothers - Bill and Shaun - at the wedding.                                                                      Do you like the top I crocheted?

My darling daughter Amy and me at the wedding

when the swan comes a-knocking, it means breakfast time!

OK, let's go to Middlewich then

Er .... what's this?    Blue sky spotted first time for over a month!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bangers and Fly

This week we have done … Audlem to Coole Pilate on the Shroppie

Weather report same as last week again, again ! - cloud, drizzle, rain and some sun

Umm - only 2 miles and 2 locks this week ! We overstayed a bit at Audlem until the BW Lady came and told us it was time to move on ---- so we did yesterday BUT we don’t want to get to Nantwich until Thursday as I have to get a train back to Nottingham for a family wedding on Friday and Nantwich is the only railway station for some way. Coole Pilate is a lovely mooring place - in the middle of nowhere but the Shropshire Union Canal people have put in loads of picnic tables and metal stands for barbeques. Big field on other side with quite a lot of calves so making very acceptable moving picture when I am washing up !

Had a few visits to the Shroppie Fly pub (canalside at Audlem Locks) while in Audlem - the Timothy Taylor Landlord beer was so nice and who knows when we will meet him again! Audlem is quite a nice little village with a small Co-op (which was always queuing at checkouts when I went in); butcher, bakery, drycleaning shop (kind of a bit queer that!) and specialist bicycle shop. A fab fish ‘n’ chips (which, so sad, we hear is closing down this month) ; kebab place (hooray says Dai … yuck says me); post office, chemist and a couple of cafĂ©/tearooms. Also 2 other pubs besides Shroppie Fly - one of which is a bit sort of trendy and the other we never looked in.

Oh, and Audlem Mill - a converted mill canalside now doing boatie bits and bods plus upstairs - mecca land for me! Loads of needlecrafty things - spent a bit on the old credit card there !

Another find there was George’s ---- an enterprising young man who has rented out an old small hut by the bottom lock (lock 15) and sells his own grown porky things like bacon, gammon and 16 types of sausage, own freerange eggs and whatever veggies he can get his hands on! We sampled the eggs, bacon and gammon and his pork/black pudding sausage are yummie yum …… now you can see why we overstayed a bit ------ sausages, needlecrafts and the Shroppie Fly !!!

Brief history of the Shroppie Fly taken from their website shroppie fly

The building has a history that goes back to the construction of the Shropshire Union Canal itself. It was originally constructed as a canal warehouse and performed that function until its closure in 1970.  Not long after this, the building was purchased privately and underwent an extensive conversion exercise. By 1974 the old warehouse had been transformed into a pub and the ‘Shroppie Fly’ was born.  The name originates from a type of canal boat. ‘Fly’ boats were the express crafts of the waterways, running around the clock delivering the most important as well as perishable goods. The ‘Shroppie Fly’ boat represented the finest example of wooden narrow boat construction with ‘Shroppie Fly’ boatmen being the elite in their field.  The centre piece of the pub is the bar which is incorporated in an original ‘Shroppie Fly’ boat salvaged from the Shropshire Union canal near Birmingham

Since last blog we have done … 2 miles and 2 locks
This makes total since Setting Off ….. 597 miles and 657 locks.