Monday 3 October 2011

Shugborough to Great Haywood Marina

Saturday 24th September 2011.

A rather rushed early morning cruise back into the marina as I unfortunately needed to get back to work today as one of the building projects I was involved with was struggling to complete on time and my guys on site, I guessed, could use some moral support.
We were back home in sunny Teesside before lunch!

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Whittington to Shugborough.

Friday 23rd September 2011

A clear sky this morning. Arrived at Fradley at around 11.30am where we topped up the water tank. We didn't really need water but I wanted an opportunity, as suggested on Wednesday, to stop and check on the selfish moorers who had now outstayed their welcome on the 48hr (maximum stay) visitor moorings.
As predicted while everyone else struggled to find space to moor for lunch, or even an overnight stop, the following boats had been here for in excess of 96hrs!!! They were showing no inclination of moving soon and are possibly still there now!

The Candy Boat!

Holly (SR & ME Lord) and the boat in front!

The Saltire (Ian & Sue)!


All the above boats had been moored for a minimum of 96hrs (made worse by the fact they were directly opposite the British Waterways Office!).

Just as it was getting dark we finally moored for the evening near Shugborough. A great days cruising!

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Hopwas to Drayton Bassett and back to Whittington.

Thursday 22nd September 2011.

Left Hopwas under a clear sunny sky although this soon became a windy trip but thankfully without rain!
By lunchtime we had reached a very quiet Fazeley Junction where we turned towards Birmingham; winding just before the Curdworth Bottom Lock; and mooring at Drayton Manor Footbridge.
We then had a walk into the village of Drayton Bassett; not sure what I was expecting; but a village without a pub, or a shop, or even a footpath is not a village at all! Apart from a glimpse at handful of fancy houses on the outskirts it has nothing to offer the visitor!
After lunch inboard we cruised back to Fazeley for fridge top-up!
The junction was strangely quiet, with few moored craft. We pushed on out of Fazeley and moored for the evening at Whittington in warm sunshine (& wind!).

Elaine in the doorway of one of the turrets on Drayton Manor Footbridge.

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Alrewas to Hopwas

Wednesday 21st September 2011

Woke up to a clear blue sky. Reversed into the winding hole and turned to return back up to cruise back up to Fradley where we would turn towards Fazeley.
We were surprised to see a long line of boats still moored on the 48hr mooring! I have made a conscious effort not to publish the names of the offending moorers until I have given them the benefit of the doubt and will check the moorings again later in the week. (watch this space to see who gets named and shamed!)
We spent over an hour and a half stopping for water and the wind was now picking up!
Stopped for lunch in strong winds near Huddlesford Junction.
After lunch we cruised down to Hopwas. During the cruise we realised mooring under a tree the night before had covered the boat in a layer of sticky sap that was attracting hundreds of unwelcome wasps! A problem we would have to cope with until we could clean the boat, back at the marina, at the weekend.

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Fradley to Alrewas

Tuesday 20th September 2011
Woke up to a very warm but sadly very wet morning!
Moved off our mooring down towards Alrewas at about 10.30am.
It's always a bad sign when cars are driving around with headlights on in the middle of the day! By 11.40 we were mooring up in Alrewas. Our cruising patterns had not changed; our cruising distance wasn't even enough to charge the batteries up; 6 lock/miles. We then read the remainder of the Sunday Times supplements before wandering along to the co-op for the essential fresh stuff.
On our travels I could help noticing the job advert outside the butchers for "a young man 16 to 17 years old!" which made me realise how Alrewas was refreshingly out of date and clearly unaffected by modern political correctness.

An honest and refreshing advert!

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Monday 19 September 2011

Handsacre to Fradley

Monday 19th September 2011

After breakfast we set away in good time and within a short time we were soon locking down Woodend Lock. After leaving the lock we felt honoured to be passing steamboat President and the butty Kildare. A blast of the whistle as it approached affermed it's right to the middle of the canal! We duly pulled over to give them the deeper water and enjoyed the spectacle of them passing. Just a shame none of the crew (dressed in period style) could bring themselves to thank us for our efforts! However a nice sight all the same. They had no doubt been to the Huddlesford Gathering over the weekend and were probably making their way to the next public appearance.
After locking past Fradley Junction we topped up the water and moored opposite in the pound, when a space became available just as we passed.
After lunch it became clear to me that narrowboat 'Labour of Love' was trying to get in the gap in front of the boat. Unfortunately the space (even with our very economic mooring) wasn't long enough to accommodate her. I offered my front bow to tie up against. The crew were also carrying three dogs (one of which only had three legs!) and they needed to moor their bow, hard against the side, as the dogs would otherwise struggle to jump ashore.
I therefore conversely offered to push out our bow and tie up against them. This we did. The dogs were delighted!
Elaine and I then had a gimble up to the Swan and en-route bought a couple of packets of bonbons from the candy boat. The first bag unfortunately only lasted the duration of the walk as we were clearly consuming calories way faster than we were burning them!
The internet connection at Fradley is 'fair' so uploaded the blogs from the last three days.

A rear view of the butty (Kildare) towed by nb President as they approached Woodend Lock.

The Candy Boat at Fradley.

Our mooring at Fradley Junction.

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Shugborough to Handsacre

Sunday 18th September 2011

After breakfast we walked to both the shops in Gt Haywood to get Sunday papers and two pints of milk.
Elaine baked some rock buns while the usual Shakespeare Line 'bullet boats' passed in both directions attempting to wash moored boats out of the cut!
Finally slipped our mooring at around 11.00am and moved up to Rugeley for lunch and then finally mooring at Handsacre where we moored for the day just beyond the Crown pub.
During an excellent meal we were jolted by what turned out to be a rather incompetent boater who crashed into the back of the boat (using our boat as a buffer) as he moved into his mooring place!!!! It turned out to be narrowboat "Hull 25" crewed by "WB & MA Griffiths" although they didn't introduce themselves!
While reading the Sunday Times I discovered a new iPhone App called 'imail' which was recommended in the travel section as an app that enabled you to send postcards home without the need to find a postbox or a stamp! I've tried it out on my parents and Elaine's daughter (will update on our findings). It looks pretty promising and easy to use as you simply take a photo and add a message and imail print it out and post it for you. (Cost 98p per card).

Elaine's rock buns - delicious!

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Great Haywood to Shugborough
Saturday 17th September 2011

As we both finished work later than anticipated on Friday and the A1 was closed at Wetherby with a car accident we opted to set away this morning.  Left home at a leisurely time and arrived at the Marina at around 11.00am just as narrowboat 'Agagio' was pulling onto the diesel jetty.  (Adagio is about that tweets - that we have recently been following see #narrowboatsthattweet on twitter!)
After a coffee and a biscuit we finally got launched about 1.00pm from the berth in the marina - not without an inpromtue foray around previously uncharted territory in the marina by virtue of the prevailing wind and my lack of concentration, (rather preferring to chat to other moorers that concentrate on the job in hand!).
We cruised (possibly our shortest cruise on record) down to the Shugborough straight where we moored for the day.  The weather was typically changeable so the hood wasn't collapsed completely.
We are this week concentrating on 'chillaxing' rather than pushing on cruising a ring of some sort.  Took the opportunity, for the first time, despite mooring in Great Haywood for the last 4 years, to walk through the woods on the off side of the canal.  A pleasant 'gimble' around the woods and the pack-horse bridge which gave me a great opportunity to try out my new Canon camera.
An early night after a great meal on board washed down with a bottle or red.

Monday 12 September 2011

Boat - 'Cruise Ready'!

Sunday 11th September 2011

A late start - well deserved after yesterday's busy day!

Finished cleaning the remaining brasswork while the wind started to pick up. A decision to leave the boat the wrong way around in the mooring was easy to make looking into the teeth of a gale! Deploying the longer electric lead was an easier option than risking a manoeuvre in high winds!
It was soon time to watch the Italian Grand Prix from Monza. Although the satellite dish held out during the strong wind we were sure at any time during the race we were going to loose our signal.
After lunch we locked up and headed back north for a tough week at work; safe in the knowledge the boat was 'cruise ready' for next weekend.
I'll let you know how we get on next weekend.

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Saturday 10 September 2011


Saturday 10th September

Travelled down to the boat last night after work, arriving just before sunset. The boat had been invaded by spiders! Thankfully all outside but non the less disgusting. Today we spent the full day cleaning the boat internally and externally. Not much fun but quite rewarding; knowing the boat is now clean for our week away next weekend.
About to sit down to a well deserved fillet steak and I have just noticed a very large spider has already built a web between out boat and 'Auntie Wainwrights' the boat next door!!
Removing that is my first job tomorrow!
Turned the boat around on her moorings today (to wash both sides) and am struggling with my orientation! Hopefully I won't step off the wrong side of the boat in the morning!

One side washed!

It had to rain - just after I had polished the brasswork!!!

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Saturday 9 July 2011

Sandon to Great Haywood.

A very wet morning delayed our departure for an hour or so. Then down through Sandon Lock, past Salt and down through Hoo Mill Lock and into the Marina - Hood up all the way!
It's amazing how the wind always builds as you approach the challenge of manoeuvring a 58' boat in a tight marina! Thankfully we kept it all together and reversed into our mooring perfectly, (probably attributable to luck more than skill).
We then had lunch and made the boat ready to be left for a few weeks. I booked the taxi back to Tattenhall and our intention was to transfere back to the car and go directly home from there. Sadly it was only when we were halfway to Tattenhall that we realised we had left the water pump switched on and our trip home would have to go back via Great Haywood. Oops a 160 minute delay to our journey home!!!
Anyway we were back home by 10.30pm and hoping the forecast weather over the weekend supports our decision to abandon our holiday two days early.

Moored back at Great Haywood - typically the sun comes out after we stop.

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Friday 8 July 2011

Aston Lock to Sandon

In the afternoon, once the weather had faired up again, we pushed on down the lock and moored above Sandon Lock.
We decided to try out the restaurant at the Dog & Doublet. It has recently been taken over and refurbished by the Lewis Partnership (the people who have The Moat House at Acton Trussell) and it made sense to end our cruise here as we had started our cruise at the Moat House with our wedding in May. The food did not disappoint; it was first class! As was the service. Even Elaine's beer battered coley was excellent and had unusual presentation. After a bottle of red with the meal and a few drinks in the bar we thought it safer to make our way back to the boat in daylight, as their is no footway along the narrow road between the canal and the pub.
We turned in early ready to cruise back to Great Haywood in the morning.

Elaine's beer battered coley and chips!

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Thursday 7 July 2011

Barlaston to Aston Lock

No sooner had we set away from our moorings at the Wedgwood Factory it was time to stop in Barlaston Village as we wanted to buy some milk and post a letter. We moored temporarily at the Plume of Feathers Pub and resisted the temptation to look around 'big boyz toys' which sells all kinds on radio controlled toys that I usually enjoy perusing.
Set away again with the intention of mooring in Stone. Stone was very busy coupled with some really selfish mooring by narrowboat 'Ramsden' who was moored right in the centre of a double mooring. Although the crew were more than happy to peer at us out of their portholes as we measured our boat up against the gap at the rear of their boat, and then at the front, they were unwilling to move forward or aft to make space for another boat.
Typically we had no sooner moved off than the crew decided they would now follow us down the next lock!!!
We moved on to moor just above Aston Lock where I took the photo below of narrowboat 'Ramsden' to help warn others of a boat with bad attitude!!

'Narrowboat Ramsden' - a crew without etiquette!

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Wednesday 6 July 2011

Westport Lake to Burleston (Wedgwood Factory)

Today has been a very changeable day with hot sunny spells and heavy rain/thunderstorms changing every 20 mins from one extreme to another.
Topped up the water etc. at Etruria and winded on the Caldon Branch before queueing once again to drop down through the Etruria flight.
Elaine increased her confidence in boat control and took the boat through 3 locks; with me on the windless. Can't think why I am encouraging her in this direction as this just means more graft for me; with less leaning on the tiller!!
Anyway, trip on the boat wouldn't be complete without standing in dog shit; and today, an inconsiderate dog owner made it possible once more! Somewhere in Trentham during a thunderstorm I picked up a nice quantity on my shoe before walking it liberally over the fore and aft decks only realising my error once my nose picked up the aroma 10 mins later. Luckily on this occasion I didn't walk it through the boat as well!!
Moored up for the day, early afternoon, near the Wedgwood factory at Burleston for a quiet country mooring with good satellite signal.

Moored at the Wedgwood Factory at Burleston.

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Tuesday 5 July 2011

Wheelock to Westport Lake

Awake early and pulling away from our moorings at 7.25am after breakfast. We were the first boat to start the climb up heartbreak hill. Along the way up to Kidsgrove we helped another boat by readying the locks for them (just in case we didn't have enough to do!) but the crew said we had restored their faith in boating (they had some bad experiences the day before with boaters who don't know the etiquette or just were plain selfish).
Although the sun shone all morning it began to rain as we approached the summit of the climb; (Kidsgrove). Finally mooring up to wait for the tunnel at 1.30pm in, by now, heavy rain.
We travelled through the tunnel and were not surprised, after only 40 minutes underground, that it was raining at the other side of the hill as well.
By the time we reached Westport lake, circa 3.00pm, the weather dried up and we moored up for the night.
We are hoping that this mooring is the last 'safe haven' before we tackle Stoke-on-Trent tomorrow.

Waiting in the rain at the north tunnel portal

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Monday 4 July 2011

Church Minshull to Wheelock

Left our mooring (again in fantastic sunshine) and again played the waiting game for each and every lock along the way. Normally, early morning cruising is a quiet time on the canal, but as the weather is so hot, more people are making use of the cooler cruising times.
It does seem as though everyone is very red! I guess, they too have the same ineffective brand of suncream!
After turning onto the Trent and Mersey at Middlewich we moored on the wider water south of Kings Lock.
We then went on a recce of the local area in search of a Tesco! With the help of "google places" on the iPhone we picked one out in half a mile! The iphone is an excellent tool for boaters!
After lunch we had a gimble down to Kings Lock Chandlery as you cannot believe how much kit a business could have in such a small space.
It was quite busy and the only thing we could see we might want was an ice-cream so we thought better of it and returned empty handed. That must be a first for a chandlery visit!!
After lunch we pushed on to Wheelock and pulled onto the back of a long line of moored boats all poised ready for the climb up "heart-break hill" in the morning.
Had a chinese takeaway for dinner followed by some 'lemon meringue' ice-cream. All washed down with a couple of Budweisers! Delicious!
The weather is forecast to change tomorrow so we are planning for an early dash in the morning before it breaks. If possible we would like to get up the hill and through Harecastle Tunnel by close of play. Only time will tell!

Waiting for a lock again; on the Middlewich Branch!!!

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Sunday 3 July 2011

Tattenhall to Church Minshull

Just after setting off we met up with a flotilla of canoes all manned by budding 'Duke of Edinburgh Award hopefulls who were canoeing from Chester to Bunbury over the weekend. They seemed to be almost keeping up with us despite our 40hp diesel and they were carrying their canoes around the locks! Another fantastic day with sun feeling very hot - even at 9.00am. Travelled up through the locks with the only notable issue was at Bunbury Locks where an 'experienced' boater didn't want to pass in the locks and reversed out of the top lock after we pulled into the bottom lock?? Maybe he just didn't want to pass US in the lock!
By 2.00pm we were fully cooked! The factor 50+ suncream showed to give little protection! While the day cooled we moored for a siesta above the lock at Venetian Marina; before moving up to Church Minshull where we had a great mooring looking over the Weaver Valley.
A bonus for the day - I found a hammer on the towpath; if you have lost a 4lb lump hammer with a yellow handle - I've got it!!!

Traffic jam at Venetian Marina Lock - us with the sunshade up!

Sunset over the Weaver Valley

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Saturday 2 July 2011

Tattenhall to Chester & Back!

Woke up to a fantastic sunny day with no wind; a complete contrast to any weather we have witnessed at Tattenhall during our 6 week stay.
Today would be our first day on our trip back to our 'home' at Great Haywood. However, we decided to turn completely the opposite direction and travel down to Chester. This was something we had intended to do during our 6 week stay but crap weather at the weekends had prevented. Despite the wide locks it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip; winding in Chester City Centre just after lunch. Quickly bagged a great mooring directly outside of the Old Harkers Arms and enjoyed a couple of pints of Cheshire Cat (a delicious blond beer).
Lunch on board before setting off to in a hurry in order to pair-up with narrowboat 'Louisiana II' that was passing our boat just as we were finishing our meal. Pairing-up through the wide locks made our journey back to Tattenhall easy. Tony and Chris (the owners) from Lincoln were great company for the afternoon.
As night fell under a great red sunset we were moored beyond Tattenhall near to The Shady Oak at Bridge 109.
A cracking day and hope to reach Middlewich tomorrow.

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Saturday 21 May 2011

Beeston Locks to Tattenhall Marina

Today we were up early for a prompt departure because although we didn't have many lock miles to do we had to check-in and moor-up in our new marina; and then find a way of getting back to our car in Great Haywood.
Tattenhall Marina will be our short term mooring until our next annual leave when we will return to Great Haywood picking up the top end of the Trent and Mersey enroute.
Aries Cars came at 2.00pm just after grand prix qualifying to transfer us back to our car! I had a range of companies to pick from but showed my allegiance to Volvo (picking the card with a V70) on the picture - sad I know!!
By 8.30 pm we had been back to the marina to pack the car; visited Ellesmere Port and I am standing waiting for fish and chips in Northallerton.

Our new berth for the summer.

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Friday 20 May 2011

Wrenbury to Beeston Locks

Friday 20th May 2011

At 15mins past midnight we were disturbed by an alcohol fuelled low life from Wrenbury who was walking along the line of moored boats banging on the roof and shouting "f**k off! You shouldn't be here! I live here" which was nice. I have my fingers crossed that he fell in and we will find him floating face down on the canal later today.
Sadly we didn't find him but suspect he lives on a boat east of the manual lift bridge!
By lunchtime we were decending the Hurleston Locks down to the Shroppie main line. We stopped and moored on the beer garden of The Barbridge Inn and we were unimpressed by the Pub. The menu, the table and the sticky toffee puddings were all of similar stickiness. The speckled hen was sadly undrinkable, and I suspect the beers are as badly cared for as the pub itself. The scampi and chips were edible but I will not be stopping there again to try anything else.
We travelled further north and west on the Shroppie on parts of the canal we have never travelled. The wide locks and heavy gates are an unwelcome challenge at this end of the day! Finally mooring just above Beeston Stone Lock where we must appear invisible to the passing 'ownerships flyboats' and 'Anglowelsh hirers' who all seem intent on washing us out of the cut!!

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Whitchurch to Wrenbury

Thursday 19th May 2011

Left our moorings in Whitchurch and worked through the Grindley Brook Locks. The locks were busy but we seemed to strike lucky as the whole flight only took a little over 1 hour.
Arrived at Wrenbury lift bridge at 1.30pm. And moored up for the evening.
We were booked into the Dusty Miller for 7.00pm.
We enjoyed a fantastic meal again although they fore-fitted their tip when they continued to charge me for a bottle of still water that was 23 months beyond it's best before date! (£4) Even though this was pointed out to the proprietor.
Then back to the boat for last orders and bed!

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Frankton Junction to Whitchurch

Wednesday 18th May 2011

Set away in good time as we intended to travel down the Prees Branch and the Whitchurch Branch on our return along the canal.
Stopped at Ellesmere once more travelling down the Ellesmere Arm so that Elaine could get her Tesco 'fix'. The journey wouldn't be deemed a success without gathering some Clubcard Points en- route.
However it also gave us the opportunity to try the pork pies from Vermeulen's Deli - as recommend in the Pearson Guide. They were fantastic!! Great recommendation.
Had lunch along the Prees Branch after winding at the Marina.
Finally mooring just beyond the Whitchurch after finding there was no mooring space down the Arm. However we travelling the full length of the Arm so can tick that one off!
Although it was a very wet morning; the afternoon was reasonably dry and sunny and the day ended with a lovely evening sunset.

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Llangollen to Frankton Junction

Tuesday 17th May 2011

Pulled out of the basin at circa 10.00am after a fantastic meal the night before in The Cornmill it was unlikely to be an early start.
Seemed to take an age to get to Trevor with hire-boaters reluctant to deploy crew members at blind corners and narrow sections leading to much delay and confusion!!!
Finally moored at Frankton Junction for the evening. Darkness settled with a peacock squawking in the trees nearby!

Elaine again holding the tiller on the return across the Ponty!

Back across Chirk Aqueduct.

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Chirk to Llangollen

Monday 16th May 2011

Today we negotiated Chirk Aqueduct and Tunnel and travelled across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and down the very narrow section from Trevor to Llangollen Basin.
Although we arrived in Llangollen in good time for lunch at a tea-shop we had struggled all day to make reasonable pace as the current on the canal was quite strong and shallow.
We moored in the canal basin which was a great novelty with water and electric for each boat. Although there was a £6 charge it was well worth the investment to be so central to Llangollen. Last time Elaine & I travelled down to Llangollen was 10 years ago and the marina basin had not been created; a great improvement!

Chirk Aqueduct.

Elaine at the helm across the Pontcysyllte - not nervous much!!

The Flinstones Range of furniture next to the canal in Llangollen

Elaine and I walked up to the Horseshoe Falls beyond the limit of navigation. About a two mile walk from the basin and the falls are pretty unimpressive.

Horseshoe Falls Llangollen.

Spotted this Mandarin Duck on the walk up to the Horseshoe Falls.

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Thursday 19 May 2011

Ellesmere to Chirk

Sunday 15th May 2011

Left moorings by the Mere and at Ellesmere travelled down the arm and moored for shopping at Tesco. A brief gimble around the town before setting down to Sunday paper reading with a cup of coffee. Soon we were underway once more; and after topping up the water we were heading towards Chirk. A duck hitched a ride; although it's stowaway status didn't last long as the galley girl evicted it as she had concerns that it may crap on the boat!
Moored for lunch just beyond Frankton Locks for lunch.
The weather was changeable with showers and high winds at New Martin locks provided some entertainment with boats blown onto the offside bank. We joined the back of a queue of 6 boats and encountered a delay of circa 90mins!
By 7.00pm we reached Chirk and moored half a mile before the aqueduct.

The view from our mooring next to the Mere at Ellesmere

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Tuesday 17 May 2011

Wrenbury to Blake Mere

Saturday 14th May 2011

Full cooked breakfast to start the day - making the most of our farm shop purchases from the Adderley Flight earlier.
Updated some of the blog although still 4 days behind (struggled for adequate signal).
Set away at 10.30am through the Wrenbury lift bridge and enjoyed a thoroughly pleasant days cruising despite the heavy rain showers in the afternoon. I had forgotten how nice this canal actually is.
Negotiated Grindley Brook assisted by the lock keeper who, although possibly not as jolly as the Nicholson Guide suggested, was very helpful all the same.
Finally mooring on the edge of picturesque Blake Mere.

Grindley Brook - locking through under a threatening sky!

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Nantwich to Wrenbury.

Friday 13th May 2011

Up early as it was my 45th birthday! By 7.30am I had opened my cards and presents from family and friends. We were then soon underway and climbing the locks onto the Llangollen. Topped up the water tanks at the top of the flight and pushed on to Wrenbury - mooring before the lift bridge for a lunchtime pint in the Dusty Miller before walking into the village and cutting back through the church yard on our return to the canal.
Staying in Wrenbury for the afternoon to recharge our batteries and had a wonderful birthday meal in the Dusty Miller in the evening. The bar had been recently refurbished and the food and wine was fantastic. We hope to stop off here again on our return back down the canal.

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Audlem to Nantwich

Thursday 12th May
Generally an uneventful day with much of the same on the long straight lengths with the Shroppie.
Finally mooring outside the Nantwich Marina. After a wander around the marina we cooked some fantastic burgers and average sausages obtained along the canal on a disposable BBQ. Generally the meal was a success although the weather prevented us enjoying the full outdoor experience (eating in the boat).

BBQ at Nantwich.

On the way to Nantwich we did pass a Secret bunker that was well signposted from the canal. Not sure how much of a secret it really was!!!

Signpost for the secret bunker!!

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Saturday 14 May 2011

Goldstone Wharf to Audlem

Wednesday 11th May 2011

Pulling from our moorings at 7.30am I enjoyed an early morning cruise up to the first lock with the smell of bacon sandwiches being prepared in the galley.
Tyrley Locks were very busy and full of the usual busy bodies who couldn't organise their own negotiation of the flight but had plenty of advice to give to others.
As we negotiated the pound of the penultimate lock we became grounded as the lock below was emptied. It was a problem soon solved once the lock above was emptied, but embarrassing all the same - attracting the usual gaggle of gongoozlers! I think the ice cream van was the only thing missing from the canal side scene!!
We were soon through the lock and mooring in Market Drayton for lunch. We walked into town.
Although we had an enjoyable lunch at a cafe in the Market Place; the town is otherwise dreadful! 50% of the retail property is vacant and the other 50% is occupied by businesses that survive off the last pickings of a dying civilisation! (Wilkinsons, Lidl, Aldi, charity shops, etc.) However, it must be a good place to have your hair cut as I noticed no fewer than 8 hairdressers on my brief sweep of the town.
After lunch we filled up with water and pushed on to Audlem; mooring outside the Shroppie Fly. I managed to sneak on the end of a mooring big enough for five boats but otherwise occupied by two badly moored hire boats who I am sure that I was being indignant for sharing their mooring ring!
On our way down to Audlem we bought some bacon, sausage and scones from the farm shop at Lock 1 on the Adderley Flight. Alison, the female part of the farm shop business, had adopted a lamb that followed her around like a dog! Elaine thought it was lovely!

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Brewood to Goldstone

Tuesday 10th May 2011

A light breakfast and an early start in order to arrive at Gnosall for lunch. At Gnosall we moored up below a crows nest which had it's problems but after a fantastic pint of Ruddles County at The Oak and delicious fish and chips from the take-away we weren't bothered about a bit of guano on the boat roof.
We pushed on after lunch arriving at Goldstone Wharf for good moorings.
To summarise the day it had been slow progress as we seemed to have spent hours and hours on tick-over passing long rows of permanently moored boats.

Young ducklings - eagerly awaiting food!

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Penkridge to Brewood

Monday 9th May
Left Penkridge and as we locked up through Gailey, Elaine presented me with a 'duck call' that she had bought from the craft shop (a strange gift; but something I always fancied); also it sounds nothing like a duck when blown!
As we passed Calf Heath Marina I looked out for narrowboat 'bramble'; a colleagues boat but I guess they were out or I was looking in the wrong place; as I couldn't spot them.
After negotiating Autherley Junction like a real amateur we progressed up the Shroppie. As we passed under the M54 we spotted Ian & Linda from Doncaster who were making use of the shelter from the showers as they painted their boat in the relative gloom of the bridge. Although gloomy it makes for a cheap wet-dock I guess.
We finally moored in Brewood and went shopping for a few essentials.
The evening came to a close with an amazing thunder and lightening show; made more dramatic by our location in a deep cutting.

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Thursday 12 May 2011

Sunday 8th May 2011 Acton Trussell to Penkridge

Waking and having breakfast in the hotel seemed strange with the boat moored outside. However it was a last chance to chat to family and friends before they all departed back to the working week.
We then spent the majority of the day in and around the hotel with lunch in the bar. It was soon 4.00pm and we promised Robert and Suzanne a trip along the canal so they travelled with us up to Teddesley Boats at which point they turned to walk back to the hotel while we moved on to Penkridge for the evening. It had been a busy weekend - if not a little stressful - although we were now looking forward to a fortnight on the boat for our honeymoon.

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Saturday 7th May 2011 Wedding Day!

After showing a few of our friends and family around the boat who were staying in the hotel across the canal, we settled down to watch the grand prix qualifiers Turkey.
We then left the boat and took our wedding attire across to the hotel where we would take up occupation for 24 hrs. After our wedding and reception we wondered over to the boat (about 1.30am!) to lock up and found that several of our guests had decorated our boat further with balloons. Although we were staying in the hotel in a fantastic room (suite) I was still very tempted to sleep on the boat! However it was late and by now all our clothes were in the hotel so we headed back to the suite.

A sign displayed on the rear hatch!

The wedding cake.

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Saturday 7 May 2011

A Cruise to the Wedding Venue

Friday 6th May 2011
After viewing the wedding cake at Amerton Farm we decorated the boat with bows and ribbons and set off for Acton Trussell.
A really enjoyable journey with passing boaters wishing us well! Although one guy did shout 'don't do it' much to the
annoyance of his other half!
Moored at Acton Trussell opposite the Moat House at about 3.00pm and enjoyed an excellent evening meal with friends and family.
Returned to the boat in torchlight with light drizzle spoiling an otherwise fantastic day.

The Mooring.

The cake - amazing skill!

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Saturday 9 April 2011

What Fantastic Weather!

Elaine and I had intended travelling down to the boat last weekend but made some last minute rescheduling due to the weather and opted for this weekend instead. Good choice. Travelled down from the north east this morning stopping at Sheffield to collect some cushions we had left templates for the last time we passed. Although all the cushions we collected we wrong in one way or another the weather has more than made up for our disappointment. We again installed the new log chest that we took home to varnish at the end of our last visit and the cushions although not strictly as our specification were comfortable. I fitted some new brass replacement door stays to the rear doors as the door stays that were fitted had white plastic components that didn't meet Elaine's exacting standards so were bound to be replaced sooner or later. I also tried out the 'dremel' at polishing the fair-leads - I can confirm I still haven't found a proper use for the dremel - jury is still out on that bit of kit! Visited the Dog and Doublet at Sandon; it has now been bought and is now run by the owners of the Moat House at Acton Trussell (Lewis Partnership) so we were keen to try it out. Very good is our review. Look forward to visiting next time. Booking is essential! Back to the boat for dinner.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Back Home Today

Up early as lots to do today. We had breakfast, loaded the car and locked up the boat with tracker activated and we were away from the marina by 9.30.
First appointment with Patricia (the wedding flower lady) in Penkridge. Next appointment with Amerton Cakes (you guessed!). Thankfully by 1.00pm the stops on the way home got more interesting; Midland Chandlers and Kuranda. I am planning solar panels soon so thought I had better study the kit!
Stopped in Sheffield to order the new cushions for on top of the new log chest.
Back home by 5.00pm to long grass and the usual chores.

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Monday 21 March 2011

A Monday Cruise! Yes Monday!

Cruised down from the marina to Rugeley to wind and return to Shugborough Hall.
On our way we spotted the crew of narrowboat Beeston Castle who we had met last in the summer of 2008 as we were both cruising the 4 counties (clockwise). They are still enjoying their time share of their boat and are out for a short chill-out week in the local area. It was good to catch up!
Returning via Colwich Lock where we had to queue as usual!! Rather surprising that we had to queue in March - who knows how bad this 'slow-filler' is going to be in July!
The weather today was again excellent.

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Location:Shugborough Hall, Kingdom

Sunday 20 March 2011

A Diamond for Elaine

Yes - Elaine always wanted a diamond! Today I painted one on the back hatch! I guess my joke was wasted on her! I could only have got away with it; as she already has a ring!

This blog update is a bit of an experiment using my iPhone.

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Location:Stafford,United Kingdom

Log chest and table installed!

Elaine & I travelled down to the boat in good time; arriving circa 11.00am. The previous evening I had collected the new log box and table from the joiners shop made to my design and sizes. It was quite a relief when the log box actually fit snugly into the bow deck. We then spent the remainder of the afternoon fitting the table leg base and pole into the steel deck. Although the steel was 5mm thick it was cut through quite quickly with my steel hole cutter. I'm thinking - money well spent on the hole cutter!
Anyway by 4.30pm all was installed and the front deck was looking quite a good place to hangout on the boat. I am typing this update from the new facility! The seat is a little hard; as I still need to make a template to take to the upholsterers to have a loose seat cushion made.
New Log Chest/Seat and Table Installed.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

It seems to have been a long winter!

Well - it's mid March and we are planning to spend our first long weekend on the boat. Previously we have stayed at the boat in all weathers. It seems to have been a long winter and although we have visited the boat several times we have failed to stay longer than a few hours. We have either; got much older and less tolerant of the cold; or, wiser, choosing to maximise our weekends during the winter period doing more pressing chores at home.

This was the image from the Marina Webcam during the majority of the winter period!

This year is a big year for Elaine and I; we are getting married in May at the Moat House at Acton Trussell so there has been lots to sort out. We will therefore be making up for lost time on the boat; spending more time this summer on the boat and we intend to honeymoon up the Shroppie, Llangollen and Montgomery before taking up short-term moorings at Tattenhall Marina during the summer. This will allow us to explore some further reaches from our base at Great Haywood and return later in the year.

Improvements on the boat this year will, all being well, include the addition of solar panels to our battery system (for less reliance on shore power and engine running) and the provision of better seating/storage and a table in the bow (a quiet place to update the blog with good broadband signal while the 'galley girl' slaves in the kitchen!). I will keep the blog updated with improvements as they materialise.