Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Years Today !!

---- since we set off on our travels.   Two whole years - doesn’t seem like it though!   And, yes, we're still loving every minute and still have absolutely no regrets about taking to this life.

Total miles and locks below as usual but the two year stats are interesting!
Year one:  1073 miles and 943 locks
Year two:    609 miles and 368 locks
As you can see, it took us quite some time at the beginning to get into the “continuous cruiser” mode - I think we’re now in it don’t you?!

Today we are moored between locks 2 and 3 of the Audlem flight at Coxbank pointing south loving these hot sunny days and it’s only March.   Unbelievable really.   Dai looks like a ripe tomato.    I just don’t get it - we’ve been as long in the same sunshine and I still look so pasty!!

Our roof is looking like a wood yard extension again!!    Just as we were running a wee bit low, BW came and pruned a load of ash trees by the lock at the Shroppie Fly pub.   They told Dai he could help himself at the end of the day when they had done, so we were on full alert.    Ha ha!!    Obviously not as alert as some locals who were standing by with a huge trailer!!    Oh no, I had visions of men and logs in the canal as they fought for the best bits!    But no, there was plenty for everyone so hopefully now we won’t need any more until next autumn time.

Dai is having to do without his Girly Button for a bit.    The bow  thruster is damaged and can’t be fixed until Jandai is out of the water in September when she has her bottom blacked.    George from Audlem Boat Services came along and gave us the diagnosis and was quite upset that he couldn’t fix it but we totally understand the issue and didn’t want flooding and subsequent sinking for him to fix it !

Met more lovely bloggers this week - Les and Jacqueline of NB Valerie.   Don’t forget the Eccles cakes from Chirk butcher when you get there!

Since last blog we have done … 1 miles and  11 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1682 miles and  1311 locks  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1300 locks

---- since we set off on our travels a week short of 2 years ago!

Not a lot to tell you this week.   We left Nantwich pointing south, spent a few days at Coole Pilate (one of my favourite moorings) and are now at Audlem on the embankment before the Shroppie Fly lock.    Glorious sunshine since an hour or so ago and less than a week before the clocks go back - wonderful!

Oh, of course, there was the matter of Wales winning the Grand Slam in the Six Nations rugby last Saturday - much celebration here, toasted by Welsh Whiskey which I bought Dai about 2 years ago.    Well, it seemed a good time to open it!

I’m busy sewing new liners for the boat curtains - bit of a long job with no sewing machine, good job I like hand sewing isn’t it!   I have washed the old ones as I replaced them but only good for rags - the dirt came out but no the fading.   Well, they have been up for 3 years so can’t really complain.

Audlem flight of locks next and the next town is Market Drayton.    

Since last blog we have done … 6 miles and  4 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1681 miles and  1300 locks

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bit of a disappointment

----- was the length of Shropshire Union canal between Barbridge Junction and Chester.    Can’t really explain why but the only place we enjoyed mooring was near Beeston Castle between Bridges 108 and 109.    Was a disappointment as we hadn’t been on this stretch before and were looking forward to it.    Yes, Chester itself is a lovely city but they don’t seem to care much about the canal as the moorings looked dire.    We had been advised by several boaters to moor at the City Walls at Bridge 123E before the Northgate Staircase Locks (right by a big Tesco) as it was a bit pointless going any further unless we planned to go on to Ellesmere Port.

We did moor at Christleton before hitting Chester which is a delightful village but the only place we could moor was opposite a boatyard right next to the Cheshire Cat pub.    Now we do like pubs but not mooring directly by them!    But to be fair, there was no noise or carrying-ons so from that point of view it was OK.    

Caught the bus from Christleton to Chester and spent a few hours wandering around the city and doing a bit of shopping and checking out the “Tesco” moorings.   Decided after seeing the moorings that we could not bother coming any further than Christleton.   

Great rugby last weekend - Wales won and for once Dai cheered on England as they beat France!     Final games next weekend and Wales well up for the Grand Slam!

Had a couple of sessions in the Shady Oak pub (at Bridge 109) - it has only been re-opened a couple of weeks.    Good beer - Black Sheep, one of our flavourites - sorry, mean favourites!!    Good basic menu - we had their hot beef and onion baguette with chips and salad for around £7 and it was delicious and big enough meal even for Dai !   Also had Sunday lunch there which again was good value at £10.75 for three courses.    Now, I never really like Sunday dinner out as it is so rare that I get vegetables cooked as I like them (almost raw) and unfortunately this was the case ---- however, the roast beef was some of the best I have ever had.    Dai had lamb which he also raved about and as he can eat well cooked veg if necessary, cleared his plate completely!

Talking about pubs closing and re-opening under new management, we had our second taste of this happening this last week!    The Barbridge Inn at Barbridge Junction has re-opened after refurbishment and change of hands.    Good real ale but the lunchtime menu was very expensive - £10 for a burger at lunchtime??   I don’t think so.    Don’t know if same menu in the evening as we didn’t look but - to be fair - some boaters moored next to us did eat in the evening and said the food was good and plentiful.     

Back at Nantwich now - and again, not able to moor on the Embankment as still full of the same boats that were there mid January!    I will be generous and surmise they are fully paid up members of the winter mooring rentals gang!

Since last blog we have done … 23 miles and  10 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1675 miles and  1296 locks  

this same structure is at two consecutive locks
(Stone Lock and Tilstone Lock)
but sadly both looking a bit unloved 

Chester Cathedral (£6 adult entrance fee)

Beautiful clock in Chester

obligatory tourist photo of Chester

obligatory tourist photo of Chester number 2

No, we decided not to come down
and moor in Chester itself

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yellow Pencil

-------- this is our saying for when we are doing a stretch of canal not done before!!    We actually do have a UK map with all the waterways on and mark it with yellow highlighter pen where we have cruised on Jandai.     Dai has done lots of canal that I haven’t done as he hired for donkeys years before we met. Where we are cruising now is "yellow pencil" for Dai, me and Jandai ---- ooooer, and Foxxie too!    

We are on our way towards Chester still on the Shropshire Union but past Barbridge Junction (where you can turn onto the Middlewich Branch).    It’s a wide canal (like a river for most of it!!) with wide locks which are sooooo slow to fill and empty - good job we’re in no rush !

So since restocking with provisions at Nantwich last weekend, we winded and came back past Hurleston locks, Barbridge Junction, Calveley, Bunbury (with its 2-lock staircase) and Beeston and tonight are moored just by Tattenhall Marina in the middle of nowhere!

Before we left Nantwich we had a curry at our favourite Indian restaurant there - The Red Melon - and a pint or two of Black Cat at The Crown Hotel.

For the first time ever since fitting the current aeriel last August, we couldn’t find any telly reception last night moored between the Stone Lock and the Iron Lock at Beeston - good job it isn’t the weekend yet as there’s more Six Nations rugby!

Since last blog we have done … 21 miles and  15 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1652 miles and  1286 locks  

sun's in my eyes!

Locks are doubles from Barbridge junction into Chester
but at the Iron Lock, Beeston, it is single passage only

Dai and Jandai coming down the Iron Lock
at Beeston - just a bit leaky!

ruins of Beeston Castle

here you can see why Beeston Castle
was built where it was - it's on the top of the mount