Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boozy Sunday

Aha ---- summer is here!!!    Lovely weather this week - long may it last!!   I hope the sun is shining where you are.    Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal- that’s where we are tonight.

Had my first ever taste of eel last Thursday - umm, not too sure.    Dai pan fried it and there wasn’t very much but eh - first eating out of the canal has got to be good!

Outrageous Sunday in Audlem did we have --- friends Fred and Lisa are holidaying on a hireboat so we met up with them in the Shroppie Fly pub about 2 pm and apart from an hour’s break to “freshen up” carried on till around 11 pm so lots of beer consumed with a big meal thrown in at some point!!   Great to meet up again and here’s to the next time in November.

So, then Monday saw the start of our voyage back to Trent Lock - we will probably move every day now as have 150 lock miles to do before August 6.     I feel exhaustion coming on thinking about it - we haven’t moved every day until we first set off, what, 16 months ago!!    

Bought our usual 2 trays of free range eggs at the Adderley Wharf Farm Shop which is right beside Lock 1 of the Adderley Flight just south of the Audlem Flight.    They are just the most fab eggs we have ever had anywhere.    They also sell homemade cakes and their own lamb, sausage, bacon etc.    We highly recommend them.  

Saw a kingfisher today just sitting on a boat’s mooring rope - couldn’t believe it, it just sat there as we sailed by.    I grabbed the camera - not brilliant shots but did catch him -- a rare opportunity.  We have seen ever less this year than last, probably due to the harsh winter.

Since last blog we have done …  30 miles and  26 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1357 miles and  1125 locks

Kingfisher posing

always quite a bustling place - Norbury Wharf -
 especially on a warm summer day

I did tell Dai that it was time he stopped fishing for the day

going through Cowley Tunnel (81 yds) at Gnosall

entering the narrow just after Cowley Tunnel

see - summer is here and I must make the most of it

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Fishy Tales

Well, what have we done this last week?    Cruised to the end of the Middlewich Branch, turned right onto the Shropshire Union so going south ---- in search of some sun!    Err, no we didn’t find any --- except for today when we have had some sunshine peeking out of the clouds!    We are moored at Coomb Pilate which is about a mile from Hack Green locks.    It’s usually a very busy mooring but when we got here yesterday about midday, there were no boats although some did arrive for the night and then all disappeared this morning.    As I write this it is about half filled.    It is such a lovely mooring thanks to the Shropshire Union Canal Society with mooring rings, loads of tables/benches and by each a metal barbeque stand.     It’s in the middle of nowhere in the countryside so perhaps everyone is drowning their sorrows about “summertime” in a pub instead!

Dai’s been fishing again these last couple of days and managed quite a few bigger fish than gudgeon!   Roach mainly and today a good sized eel which managed to chomp through the line and escape as I was running inside for a knife (apparently to chop off its head as Dai had visions of eel pie tonight !!)

Oh dear - had to ditch the pansies the other day as they have now gone past their best --- the roof looks so bare now.    We had hoped to get some different flowers in Nantwich --- saw the flowers but couldn’t find any compost so the roof is still bare.

Did anyone see the news on West Midlands BBC website about offenders working on the canals?   In case not, here is the extract.   We have occasionally seen some such gangs here and there so hoping the more organised scheme will take off.

Offenders are to be set a range of tasks aimed at improving canal towpaths across the West Midlands.
People sentenced to community pay back tasks will embark on a number of jobs including painting locks, cutting back vegetation and removing litter.
The work will take place on canals in Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Stafford.
British Waterways said it had run similar schemes before but this was the start of a 12-month agreement.
Previous work between British Waterways and probation trusts had taken place on an ad-hoc basis but this partnership had a more co-ordinated approach, a spokesman said.
If successful, the programme could be rolled out to other areas of the country

Since last blog we have done …  13 miles and  4 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1327 miles and  1099 locks  

looks a bit lost in the landing net doesn't it !

some colour on a dull day in Barbridge

Getting better Dai !

Errie evening on Nantwich Embankment

Caught a snake!!   No, its the eel that got away

Peaceful at Coomb Pilate mooring

Stargazer Pie courtesy the gudgeon !

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Any Gudgeon Recipes Anyone ??

….. Because we could feed ourselves for next month if you have!!   Dai been fishing today since about 8 am and caught millions (plus some other sorts but the chips would be bigger on our plates!!).

….. And, as he’s been sitting on the back all day has been counting (a) planes taking off from Manchester airport and (b) plans going into Manchester airport and © number of boats going by and - just in case you’re interested (ha ha) - at 5.30 pm it has been 38.

Actually I find that quite remarkable because we were only saying the other day that we haven’t seen the canal in July so quite ----- but then again, we are moored on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie so people are probably either going one way to the Burton Festival down the Trent and Mersey or onto the Llangollen Canal in the opposite direction.

Since last week’s post we have moved from Wheelock to Middlewich and onto the Middlewich branch and tonight are moored about 4 miles along it in the middle of nowhere surrounded by delightful countryside, cows and lots of birdsong.

Got to give a plug to “San Marco” - Italian restaurant in restored canalside building at Wheelock.    We went there for a meal last Saturday evening and it was really good food, excellent service, very reasonable price and lovely interior - well recommended.

Saw bit of lock rage at the end of Middlewich Branch where it joins the Trent and Mersey yesterday -- it was quite busy with boats coming up and down the lock and no doubt the “shouter” was wanting to get through and moored up but no excuse for accusing another boater of jumping the queue which he wasn’t doing - the lock is very close to a bridge with only a couple of mooring places so can quite understand he couldn’t see the boats waiting.     If only people could just have a civilised word instead of jumping in with both boots cursing and shouting - this life is meant to be chilled and we don’t appreciating f-ing and blinding for no real reason now do we?

Ohmigod, two wonderful sights just gone by!!!    First Speedo Man followed closely by Lardy Man - what handsome fellows !!!

Recipe for Welsh Cakes requested after last week’s blog (but be warned, they are very addictive and are best eaten same day if there are any left as they come out of the pan!!)
Makes about 15 or so

225g self-raising flour
pinch salt
100g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
25g currants or sultanas or both mixed!
1 egg yolk mixed with 3 tablespoons milk
Optional mixed spice pinch
6cm round cutter
Griddle or heavy-based frying pan (I use a cast iron frying pan)

Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl.  Add chilled and diced butter and rub in until like fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in sugar and fruit.   Add egg/milk and stir altogether to soft but not sticky dough.   (either add flour if too sticky or milk if too dry)
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to about 1 cm thick (definitely no thicker) and cut into rounds.
Heat the pan and grease lightly (you mustn’t “fry” the cakes).    Cook in batches about 2 minutes on each side till golden brown.    Remove from pan and dust lightly with sugar.      Enjoy!!

Since last blog we have done …  14 miles and 21 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1314 miles and  1095 locks  

one for the ladies - ha ha !!!

this is the only pic I can post tonight as internet connect is a bit iffy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Dai

Celebrations yesterday for Dai’s birthday ---- homemade Welsh Cakes for lunch (Dai’s request when I asked him what sort of birthday cake he wanted); good rib eye steaks at local pub - Royal Oak -  and a few pints of real ale there and also at the other pub in village - Broughton Arms.

We have moved this week all of 2 miles !! ---- well, it makes the total mileage as continuous cruisers a nice round 1300 miles.    This did include 9 locks in the flight “Heartbreak Hill” although we don’t find them that bad at all and lots of them are twinned.    And you don’t have to do them all in one go as lots of places to moor.    We’ll probably carry on down Heartbreak Hill tomorrow (think there are another 14 locks to go).

Hey - and sunshine this week!!!     Two and a half days - we made the most of it being moored at Rode Heath.     Back to drizzle, sharp showers and some sunny intervals since yesterday though.

Forgot to tell you about our early morning awakening last week at Bosley Locks.    Foxxie started barking like a mad thing about 5 am so Dai dived out of bed to see what was going on ---- nothing he could see but Foxxie wouldn't shut up.   Then we heard a chap shouting about a lamb and suddenly heard terrific bangs against side of Jandai.   So Dai got dressed properly and went out and lo and behold a lamb was swimming up the canal.   To cut a long story short, the chap had pulled the lamb out of the canal once and was on his way for the second saving.    Yes, he got the lamb out and laid it on the far bank.   Chap was back on towpath side going to his boat when the lamb plunged back into the canal - well, we could hear the sheep in field on towpath side ba-ba-ing like crazy.   So a third rescue was made and they carried the lamb over the locks to towpath side and laid him in the field.   No more ba-ba-ing so can only assume it was reunited with mum.

Nothing much else to report this week - hope you all managed to catch some rays and let’s all hope more are coming before “summer” is over !!

Since last blog we have done …  2 miles and 9 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1300 miles and  1074 locks  

exhausted little lamb

boats at Rode Heath on Trent and Mersey Canal

view from Jandai mooring at Rode Heath

Jandai mooring at Rode Heath

Twinned lock  53 at Rode Heath but only one lock available
as the one on the right  no longer in use!

Family of 6 cygnets, mum and dad