Posts Tagged ‘shroppie’

Day 14 – Grindley Brook to Middlewich

Tuesday 7 July, 2009

We have a 3G+ connection! The Internet is really fast!

Grindley Brook staircase at the crack of dawn (ish)

Grindley Brook staircase at the crack of dawn (ish)

Two alarms failed to go off, so this morning started rather later than planned. Fortunately we had the six Grindley Brook locks to ourselves and we entered the three lock staircase at about 7.37 and clearing the bottom lock of the flight at about 8.06. As we were the first to use the flight the water levels were a bit low and we ran aground as we crossed the cill between the bottom two locks in the staircase. A bit of nifty paddle raising ensured that we were soon on our way.

Continued passage along the Llangollen was rapid following the flow. At Wrenbury the electric swing bridge managed to hold up a fire engine because the boater who kindly let us through apparently didn’t know how to lower the bridge. Fortunately we couldn’t see a tower of smoke from a burning inferno in the village so hopefully it was a false alarm.

Going down Hurleston

Going down Hurleston

On reaching the middle of the three Baddiley Locks we accidently drew the lock ahead of a boat which subsequently was intending to ascend. In our defence, it looked like they were moored up (it was pouring it down) and had nobody on the lockside to operate the lock. Despite profuse apologies the gentleman (presumably Jim of Jim & Pearl on “Badger”) was extraordinarily rude and seemed adamant in telling us it was “bad manners” at least three times and no amount of polite reasoning was ever going to placate him. Thankfully we were soon away and prevented any further delay to the unhappy gentleman.

The aforementioned rain continued most of the way to Hurleston. On reaching the bottom of the flight we turned left towards Barbridge when the rain started again. We turned right at Barbridge onto the Middlewich Branch where it was generally windy rather than rainy and the four locks are particularly deep.

First lock after turning at Middlewich junction

First lock after turning at Middlewich junction

We turned left at Middlewich junction and moored by the Newton Brewery Inn which disappointingly served only Marston’s bitter. Dinner was accompanied by practice night at St Michael’s, Middlewich and a bottle of Optima & Ortega 1999 from the Bothy vineyard.

Tomorrow we hope to do the Anderton Boat Lift where we will hopefully meet Bondy, so expect lots of photos!

Menu: usual breakfasts; peppered Salami salad; stir-fry chicken with noodles and Pak Choi (followed by the customary cheese and biscuits).

Day 9 – Acton to Bettisfield

Thursday 2 July, 2009

The morning broke somewhat cooler than yesterday. It was hoped that this would be a good indicator for the day but it soon warmed up again.

Almost as soon as we left this morning (after Luke had been back to rescue an abandoned mooring stake) we turned off the Shropshire Union onto the Llangollen Canal. Michael was given the task of squeezing the boat through the four locks at Hurleston as they allowed only fractions of an inch on either side. Shortly after Hurleston we reached Swanley Marina – not shown in the Nicholson guide – where Bernard charmed the ladies at the shop allowing us to pick up a replacement bottle of gas.

The increasingly inaccurate Nicholson guide suggested there were “excellent stores” in Ravensmoor. This is some way from the canal but there being a number of locks for the boat to navigate so it was decided that I should have another excursion on the bike. Much further this time and no shop to be found. Dodging milk tankers on a small road with an even smaller bike was something not to be repeated too often.

After the locks by Ravensmoor we reached Wrenbury where Luke was to depart the boat. Setting off with his duvet under his arm we said our goodbyes. I disappeared off into Wrenbury on a more successful shopping trip. The village was in the middle of its scarecrow festival – the Crowet and Chandon display being particularly cringeworthy. Wrenbury was also equipped with a Robinson’s pub, the Dusty Miller, just by an electrically operated lift bridge. Three pints were purchased, these being followed extremely quickly by another three.

Grindley Brook was the next point of interest. the first three locks were ascended with ease with boats coming towards us leaving them ready. The staircase was another matter. The lock-keeper revealed that in the spell between 11am when we got there (4ish) there had only been one other boat ascending the staircase. Boats coming down seemed almost continuous. As a result we had to wait for five boats to come down before we could start our journey up. Fortunately we got to the top just before BW dewatered the top lock to retrieve a broken paddle.

After Grindley Brook we crossed Whixall Moss. A useful shop (not mentioned in Nicholson) was visited, mostly to replace the rice that Luke had used up a few days before. While Bernard and Michael were there they enjoyed a sample from a bottle of elderflower and lemon cordial that had exploded while Bernard was waiting. The shopkeeper suggested this had recently been happening quite frequently.

We are now moored at Bettisfield. A conveniently placed picnic bench provided by the Shropshire Union Canal Society allowed us to eat al fresco rather than in the extremely warm front cabin. Tomorrow we move on further up the Llangollen canal and across the mighty Pontcysyllte aqueduct which has recently been awarded World Heritage status.

Todays menus: back to assorted sandwiches for breakfast, gammon salad for lunch, lamb Jalfrezi curry served with poppadums (etc.), rice, and White Horse beer for dinner. No cheese tonight.

Day 8 – Gnosall to Acton

Wednesday 1 July, 2009

Today is best described as hot. Actually, very hot might be more appropriate. As I write, people are taking their second showers of the day in order to wash off the rather thick layer of sweat and sun tan lotion that seems to have formed.

The day started with Thomas Telford’s trademark cutting and embankment style of canal. The cuttings provided useful shelter from the heat of the sun, embankments being an opportunity for Luke to top up his tan.

The engine ran for probably it’s longest continuous run of the holiday so far largely due to some rather careful locking. The five locks at Tyrley, near Market Drayton, started some time before midday. Another five at Adderley followed shortly after and were a chance to prepare for the fifteen locks in the Audlem flight. The sun was probably at its hottest during this period so we were glad that we didn’t have to overwork too many locks because of preceding boats. In total the fifteen locks took 1 hour and 25 minutes.

After Audlem we enjoyed a straightforward run to Nantwich punctuated only briefly by the pair of locks at Hack Green. We are currently waiting for the boat’s water tank to fill. A burst water main in Nantwich is making this a slow process. Nantwich was supposed to see us collecting essential beer supplies. However, the Woodlands brewery appear to have failed us. A phone call to them earlier in the day revealed something between ignorance and incompetence but either way, we have no more draught coming aboard. We’ll have to make do with the White Horse bottled beer for time being.

We are moving on (hopefully shortly) by just one bridge to reach Acton where there is a pub serving “Rreal Ale” according to the Nicholson guide.

Now it’s my turn for the shower….

Today’s menus: Fullish English breakfast, Luke’s homemade “vegetarian” beefburgers and salad for lunch, Morcon (Philippino beef roll with a tomato sauce) served with fresh veg for dinner.

Day 7 – Autherley to Gnosall

Wednesday 1 July, 2009

As predicted, a very leisurely day today. We didn’t get on the move until gone 9am. Before setting off, Bernard got the Brasso out and polished up the chimneys, pigeon box, tiller arm and rear mushroom vent. We also had breakfast together before getting underway rather than the more staggered and informal arrangement we usually follow.

Being rather short, the journey from Autherley to Gnosall was fairly event-free. The impressive aqueduct at Stretton (pictured below) was a particular highlight. Other than that, we tied up briefly at Wheaton Aston to take on water and undertake some of the less pleasant disposal tasks.

We took it fairly slowly during the day so reached Gnosall at about 3pm. I got the bike out for the first serious bit of cycling for quite some time in order to speed up a bit of shopping that needed to be done. After a (Winter) Pimm’s and cake break we moved the boat one bridge further along to where we had arranged to meet Michael.

Having a couple of hours to kill meant another opportunity to get the boat looking its best. More polish – this time the forward mushroom vent. The decorative chain for the stove chimney was also polished and attached. After that, the sides were cleaned up to bring out the colour and remove all the scuff marks from shoes that had built up over the week. The polypin of Boatman’s Bitter had been finished earlier in the day so this was sterilised ready to be filled with a delivery from the Woodlands Brewery in Nantwich later in the week. Luke and I then retired to the Navigation for a couple of pints of Banks’s Original.

Returning from the pub meant time to start cooking dinner. It wasn’t too long before I discovered the difference between cooking on a gas and electric hob. A small fire in a saucepan didn’t quite manage to scorch the galley ceiling but did leave Bernard with a rather tough pan-cleaning job. The remainder of dinner preparation was thankfully less exciting.

Michael arrived just after 9.15pm where a G&T was waiting. No blogging tonight as Gnosall seems devoid of mobile telephone masts so I’m writing this tomorrow morning (time behaves strangely on this boat). Back to four-person sleeping again so the fun of rotating (and sleeping on) the table has returned.

Today’s menus: more breakfasty sandwiches, ham salad for lunch, chicken casserole with boiled potatoes and cauliflower for dinner. Cheese and port followed.

Tomorrow’s day was at one point  calculated to require 18 hours running. Fortunately a quick recalculation got it down to a more sensible 11 hours. 25 locks to do starting at around lunchtime so it might get quite busy in the afternoon.

Week 1 total running time: 61.35hrs.

Day 6 – Great Haywood to Autherley

Monday 29 June, 2009
Tixall Wide

Tixall Wide

Michael wasn’t here this morning so a 7.12 start was observed. Straight onto Tixall Wide and a chance to get creative with steering 🙂

The predicted extremely hot weather fortunately held off long enough to see us through the first few locks of the day. It wasn’t too long before the sun made its way through the cloud and scared me back indoors. Bernard has a healthy brown glow already so steered us through the sun.

Gailey Toll House and intrusion.

Gailey Toll House and intrusion.

We made it to Gailey summit at around lunchtime and settled into some straightforward cruising. Fortunately the bar was open around this point so there was little time to get bored. A series of four locks came soon but Luke was not prepared to carry his pint with him for fear of spillage. Sometimes beer comes first. Sometimes? – ed

Across the summit to Autherley the weather got hotter and hotter. I avoided added pinkness by staying indoors while Luke took the opportunity to sprawl on the foredeck. After turning onto the Shropshire Union at the junction the weather become slightly threatening. A quick spurt just before the M54 motorway bridge saw us escape the worst of the rain as thunder and lightning reigned supreme. A couple of fishermen didn’t fare so well.

Hiding from the rain under the M54

Hiding from the rain under the M54

Luke, just before discovering green coconut milk

Luke, just before discovering green coconut milk

After a whole hour of shelter we decided to move two bridges further on – a whole quarter mile – where we moored up. While waiting for dinner Luke found a coconut floating in the cut that had last been seen floating under the motorway. In a flurry of enthusiasm he fished it out and promptly split it in two. The ensuing smell has had at least two dogs told off by their owners. Urgh.

Today’s menus: see previous breakfasts, sausage and boiled potato salad for lunch, stuffed marrow with potatoes and fresh vegetables. Cheese and port followed.

Tomorrow entails 10.5 miles of travel so might be quite relaxed. We might even have a slightly later start than 7am!