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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