Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - Finale

Sunday was our last day of the trip.  None of us were keen to get underway as we knew we did not have far to go.  With the sun shining we did eventually get underway.


All ready to get underway but waiting for a passing boat

Yet another,  seems this bank holiday was very popular with boaters


Finally underway and approaching Bunbury Locks

At Bunbury we waited in the queue though only two boats were ahead of us.  As usual Chris went on ahead to see what was happening.

It wasn't long when she reported back that there were two boats coming up.  I prepared Marie to go in and expect to do the famous Shuffle.  Before she could untie  Chris reported that the owners of the two boats were refusing to do the shuffle and had already started to fill the bottom lock.  

Hoping they could hear I replied to Chris I thought they were being selfish and not conserving water.  She came back that boats were newly painted and that they did not want their paintwork scratched.  I wish I'd thought of it at the time but I should have replied did they think my helmsmanship was no good but then its too late now.  No choice we waited it out until they were through.

Eventually we could proceed and had learnt one boat was coming up.  The shuffle was duly executed, with no boat touching any other.  Smiles and cheery chat all round was had as we passed by.

Marie and I descend the top lok

The Shuffle Starts, I move forward, then Marie moves across making room for the other boat

The other boat moves forward then I move across to make room for Marie

Finally the middle gates are closed and we descend the bottom lock.  Simples :-)

The next locks were uneventful so we quickly got through Tilstone and Beeston Stone Locks.  As usual there was a queue at Iron lock but no one wanted to go through in pairs which is most wise as the lock walls bow near the bottom.  I did do it once next to a very experience boater but would not recommend it nor will I do so again.

On our arrival at Wharton Lock visitor moorings there was just space for three boats to squeeze in, so Steve & Steph, Marie and Graham pulled in.  We had no choice but to go down the lock.  At the Shady Oak every available mooring space had been taken on the way to the pub and through the bridge 'ole.  We had no choice but to breast up alongside our good friend Paul's boat, nb Jasmine, for the night.  It was now 5:30pm

We had booked a table for the carvery but had been texted earlier by Yvonne, the landlady, that she was fast selling out and would we like our meals plated up or we'd loose out completely.  We readily agreed and were grateful to sit down for a well earned meal.

That evening local guitarist Chris Fletcher entertained us and a great night was had.  This was a fab finish to a wonderful week cruise in great company.


Chris sings a power ballad whilst a happy landlady, Yvonne, looks on.

Fab friends and great company for the night to end the cruise.

Next day we took it easy and in the afternoon chilled in the garden making the most of the bank holiday sun.  The pub was busy with customers all day keeping Pete, Yvonne and staff very busy.  Its so good to see the pub busy like it used to be.

Afternoon Bar-b-q underway

Even young Smudge was chilled out,  most unusual for him

Steve (nb Merlin) is a member of a Beatles tribute band, he plays John Lennon apparently and also performs as a solo artist.  I could not resist the opportunity so talked him into having a bit of a jam with the guitars in the evening.  The pub was quieter then so we could play to our hearts content, even those who were visiting the pub enjoyed our little set.

The two Steves

So that's the end of our Easter cruise.  We're back into normal life out on the cut for the summer staying fairly local so Chris can commute to work.  Chris is back to work now and I am starting to tackle some of the jobs I've been putting off, but that's for another post.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - part 4

As usual we set off at 10 am and descended the last of the Audlum locks on a warm sunny morning.  There was little wind and so a pleasant cruise was had.  


Below the visitor moorings below Audlum locks


Entrance to Overwater Marina




We had an uneventful run through Hack Green and got to Nantwich early evening to find every available mooring space taken with boats button to button through the town.  Eventually we got a mooring on the visitor moorings at Hurlston Junction and had another pleasant evening out on the towpath.


My arty photo  I call this "Electric Moon"


Next morning was Saturday and a glorious one it was too.  The sun was already quite warm so it was t-shirt weather for the day.  We took Smudge for his usual morning walk then prepared to up pins.

The fleet getting ready to move off

One could tell it was a bank holiday weekend.  The canal was busier than the M25.  Every bridge 'ole had a queue of boats going through in either direction.  I've never seen so many boats all on the move at once.  We waited our turn and boats passed through the bridge taking it in turns, all very civilised.


Steph on Merlin waits for a boat to pass through the bridge 'ole  two more waited the other side

At the Barbridge Inn the moorings were busy as expected but here we met several of our Tattenhall boats.  nb Chugabug on the pub Jetty, Harry on nb Utopia waiting to come through the bridge followed by Dave and Jo on nb Third and final.  Harry tooted his horn to welcome AmyJo as she came through the bridge.  This was soon followed by Chugabug's horn, Third and final joined in, then Marie's on nb old Faithful so of course we joined in sounding AmyJo's horns too.   The cocoffany of noise was deafening but everyone took it in good cheer thankfully.


Busy pub moorings

nb Utopoia and nb Third and final

nb Chugabug on the left and Nb Third and final in the middle underway  nb Old Faithful just coming though the bridge

Barbridge Junction

After passing Barbridge junction we carried on to the Cheese Factory at Calverley.  Here they do an excellent full English breakfast so we stopped for that.  We were not due back at the Shady Oak until Sunday evening so with the sun beating down we decided to moor up Bunbury side of Calverley and sat out taking in the sun. 

The ladies taking the opportunity to top up their tans

But for Graham it was too hot so he took himself off for a stroll

Unknown to Graham we knew it was his birthday so whilst in Market Drayton we had bought him a birthday cake which in the evening we presented to him.  We did not have any candles for him to blow out so Marie improvised with a match used to light the log burner

Marie presents Graham with his birthday cake and improvised candle

This night was our last of the cruise so we had a bit of a celebration party and bar-b-q in the evening.  I think we nearly emptied out the contents of the drinks cupboard and sat out until late in the night enjoying the company and banter

let to right  Steph, Graham, Steve, Chris and yours truly

To keep warm we got a roaring fire going in the fire pit  Someone wanted to warm their toes.

Cheers everyone  Baby Guinnesses all round


Total distance:1.99 miles Elapsed time:0h45m56s Locks:0 Bridges:7 
Average speed:2.60 mph (2.60 lock/mph) 














Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - part 3

On Wednesday we found that it was market day in Market Drayton.  We had planned on staying the day so walked into town.  It was getting warm and the sun was out.  Just like a summer's day.  We enjoyed walking through the numerous stalls.  Both Marie and Chris managed to buy some summer dresses as well.

The start of the market

Having walked about all morning we arrived at the Hippodrome, now a Weatherspoons.  With the warmth of the day we stopped for a drink.  Becks is 3 for £5 so I took up the offer.

On the way back to the boats Steve and I needed the boys room so dived into a pub, however, the canny landlord called out "what'll ya have guys" so we felt obliged to have another drink, but after the needed comfort brake.  To be fair our beers (Doombar) were waiting for us on our exit and nice they were too!  

Enjoying a drink outside Wetherspoons

 We returned to the boats in the early evening and after freshening up we set up the barby and had a pleasant evening sat outside chatting the night away.  The evening was pleasant but the temperature soon dropped.  No matter we just wrapped up warm and carried on.


waiting for the Barby to settle in the evening sun.

We rose earlier next morning as we wanted diesel and water at the services.  It was slightly misty as we crept past the lone of moored boats, then winded at Talbot wharf, backing up onto the fuelling jetty just in time for it to open.



Cool and misty as we get underway

Having filled with diesel it was time for watering.  There was a bit of a queue building by now but a space just big enough for AmyJo was left between the two boats filling at the taps (there are two water points here).  I worked AmyJo over and settled in between them when a fourth boat owner called over "Oi we want water too my friend".  Now I knew the boat on the tap behind us was nearly full as they told us as we moored up so I politely replied "and so with a bit of patience you will get some before me".  In fact they did get to fill before us as the boat behind us soon moved off so we did so we did not jump the queue when the boat infront later moved off.


View for the water points from the fueling wharf before the queue formed

Later, just as the shouting boater left the water point Steve and Steph came through the bridge 'ole in nb Merlin.  They had to stop in the bridge 'ole as Mr impatient was now blocking their way, however he seemed not to realise this and proceeded to yell and guffaw at them to come through and get out of the way.   It wasn't until I pointed out to him in fact it was he that was in the way he shut up and moved over allowing Merlin to proceed.  Really! some people have no idea that they are in the wrong at times.  We just stood and watched the antics as he left.


Merlin Stuck in the bridge 'ole as the other boat blocked their way

After the fleet had all winded we set off on our return leg via the Adderley locks, at the top of which Graham and I managed to buy another of those lovely pork pies.




Addeley top lock
How's that for a pork pie then  (smudge looks longingly at it too)
Next, we started our descent of the Audlem locks, this time making good progress.  The group now worked as a team and the routine we adopted meant we all managed to help each other though assisted by the crews of ascending boats.

A young willing crew from another boat help with the lock gates for me.

Plenty more to go


Having descended Lock 13 we found plenty of mooring space on the visitor moorings in the pound.  As we had a table booked for another meal in the Lord Combermere we stopped and moored up for the night.  I have to say we all particularly like the food in the Lord Combermere,  its worth the walk to the pub just for that.


Total distance:8.18 miles Elapsed time:6h51m37s Locks:6 Bridges:22 
Average speed:1.19 mph (2.07 lock/mph)

Friday, 26 April 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - Part 2

After a peaceful night we prepared the boats for our ascent of the 15 Audlem Locks and 5 Adderley Locks.  The morning was grey and overcast with a slight drizzle but it was surprisingly a lot warmer than the last two days.

Someone once posted on facebook about boaters who, when using mooring pins, loop their lines through the loop of the pin and not round the pin itself.  A comment from another said it does not matter they never break.   Well here is proof they do.  Had the line not been correctly passed around the pin itself  but round to loop instead the boat would have ended up adrift.  This may well have occurred earlier in the morning as two boats had passed at some speed.


Mooring pin and sheered off loop.  


At our now usual time of 10am we set off up the flight.  Steve, now with Steph who had joined us last night, lead the way followed by Graham.  Next was Marie.  I asked Chris to work Marie through the locks and I followed last single handing.  To my relief several boats were descending and their crews, whilst waiting for the lock, helped me through.

A dull day at lock 12 just above the Shroppie Fly pub.

For some reason progress was slow with all of us having to wait for the boats coming down to clear the lock we were moving to next.   It soon became apparent why.  A run of working boats started to appear descending the locks.

The first of several working boats leave the lock whilst Marie moves off into the vacated lock, meanwhile,
 I wait in the lock for them both to clear before moving out

And another

Eventually passage stopped altogether.  A gent walking down from the above lock asked that I remain in the pound and hover away from the towpath to allow his butty to be roped through, all the while a queue building behind me in the locks and pounds below.  There was nothing for it but to sit it out until finally we passed the butty.  Progress was much better there after.


Butty being roped into the lock

Slowly inch by inch.  You can see the queue of boats building up below the lock

Now the butty was passed normal progress resumed

Audlum Top Lock  There is an honesty box here and the homemade pork pies are truly scrumptious!

By time we got to the top lock it was decided to stop on the visitor moorings for some lunch and a bit of a breather before tackling the Adderley locks.  I had purchased a large homemade pork pie from the honesty box at the top lock so tried a slice.  It rates as one of the best pork pies I've had in along time.  Needless to say it didn't remain long before it was gone


Welcome break for lunch

The first sighting of ducklings of the season  sorry for the burred photo we had to be quick

At the Adderley locks more working boats passed through  this time a butty was being towed by a motor so as not to hold things up too long.  I do love to see working boats on the move but they do seem to pick the busiest of weekends to go through locks.


butty towed rather than roped through the locks.

We worked as a team through the Adderley locks and eventually moored up on the visitor moorings in Market Drayton at 7:30pm  Surprised to find moorings free for us all at that time of night at what is a popular spot to stop overnight.



Total distance:6.27 miles Elapsed time:9h58m33s Locks:20 Bridges:16 
Average speed:0.63 mph (2.63 lock/mph)