Wednesday, 24 April 2019

A busy few Weeks and Then a Break Away Part 1

Hi All

Not blogged for a few weeks as we have been based at the Shady Oak busy getting the pub ready to open.  I have a lot to post about as we have just returned from a week trip to Market Drayton and back.  I'll not write one mile long post so will split the trip up in a few post over the coming days.  Watch this space.

I have been mostly working in the beer garden cutting grass and weeding flower beds.  I also swept the car park and generally tidied up.  

I had to move another boat for the broker at Tattenhall Marina during the work at the pub.  This time it was the blue Collingwood boat I'd picked up from Aqueduct marina last year.  Steve, the broker, has now moved his operation to Nantwich so I will be moving his boats to there and Uplands basin at Anderton over the coming weeks.  This meant I got my first trip along the Middlewich branch and over the newly restored breach.  I must say they have made a great job of reinstating the canal and towpath.

The rebuilt Middlewich breach section

I'm please to say the opening of the Shady Oak on the 10th April went really well on Wednesday and the grand opening on Friday night was a huge success.  Boaters from the nearby Tattenhall Marina and Golden Nook moorings came in their boats in large numbers so that every available mooring space was taken for a half mile in each direction.  More boats were moored there than I have ever seen before. The evening entertainer, called Charlie, had many up dancing most of the night.  There must have been a few heavy heads next morning.  They have had a very busy Easter weekend so all is going well for them.

On the Sunday we began our planned trip to Market Drayton.  This trip our friends Marie and Graham came with us and this time Steve and Steph on nb Merlin came along too.

We left at about 10ish with a strong icy wind blowing but the sun shining.  It was interesting getting the boats into the locks in the wind but we managed without bumping the walls to heavily.  Today Steve was single handing so we had four boats with only Chris and I as a couple.  We all worked together to get the boats through the locks but this was slow going. 

Ascending Wharton Lock, our first lock of the trip with an icy wind but sun shining

As the day progressed the sun was lost behind building cloud and it started to feel much colder, an extra layer needed.  At Bunbury staircase the locks were deserted, no volunteer lockies nor gongoozlers.  We paired the boats up in the locks and worked them through

Bunbury locks, cold and deserted except for us.

The weather continued to deteriorate and the wind continued to pick up.  This did not deter any of us and in fact we all were quite enjoying the trip despite the cold.  It is alway good when we get to do our first real trip of the season.

A rare sheltered section gave brief respite form the wind
The usual wait at the Iron lock.  Bowing walls mean only one boat can use the lock at a time

 The run from Calverley saw us crabbing along towards Barbridge, the wind quite gusty by now, but at least the sun started to make an appearance again, it still did not warm up any.  

New industrial units being built after Calverley and the Boughey Depot

Leaving Hurlston Junction behind

Hedge hopping cars!  Stacked 3 high in the nearby Scrap yard on the A51.

Dog sculpture in Nantwich must have felt the cold as someone has given it a scarf.

We passed through Calverley and then Hurlston Junction and continued on to Nantwich  where we managed to find moorings for the night at the Aqueduct.  After a long cold day we decided to eat aboard our own boats and a much needed early night.

Total distance:9.18 miles Elapsed time:7h41m43s Locks:6Bridges:21 
Average speed:1.19 mph (1.97 lock/mph)

Next day we left at 10am.  The weather was better with morning sunshine but the cold of the day before remained.   Smudge, bless him, braved the cold again with Chris while she worked the two Hack Green locks as thats where he prefers to be, he hates being on the boat in a lock.  His new coat giving him some protection from the cold.

Smudge supervises whilst Chris helps Marie up through the first lock

The morning started to improve and the sun continued to shine.  The wind was abating, though still keen, made easier passage.

AmyJo ascending the first lock after I had helped the others through

By the time it was my turn Steve and Graham had moored up and came back to help me through.  Their winter togs show just how cold it was despite looking nice and sunny in the photo.

Once clear of the locks we proceeded on to Audlem.  By now Smudge had had enough of the cold and settled on his bed on the warmth of the engine cover.  He is getting on for 3 years old now and is finally calming down.  He is much more laid back while we cruise these days but demands a cuddle once we're moored up, not that I complain.  We've always had a daily cuddle ever since he was a pup.

Sheltering in the warm back cabin after working the locks.  Does not look happy!

That evening we moored on the visitors moorings below the Audlem Locks and had a super meal in the Lord Combermere Pub.  At last the wind was gone and it started to feel warmer for a change

I think I've bored you enough for now but will continue the trip diary in the next post.

Total distance:5.37 miles Elapsed time:4h2m45s Locks:2Bridges:14 
Average speed:1.33 mph (1.82 lock/mph) 

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Time to leave the Marina

Hi reader,

We had originally planned to leave the marina at the end of the month but a nice surprise bought forward our leaving to the beginning of the month

For the last two weeks we (Chris and I) have been moored outside our local pub the "Shady Oak".  The has been closed since October and our good friends Pete and Yvonne have taken on the pub as landlords.

Pete and Yvonne are boaters themselves and have run pubs in the past so the "Shady" will be in good hands.

Unfortunately the previous landlords have rather neglected the pub so we have spent the last weeks clearing up rubbish outside and decorating inside.  All being well the "Shady" will re-open on the 10th April.  If you are heading towards Chester please drop in for a drink and say hi.

Sunset outside the Shady Oak

Friday, 1 March 2019

Mini Heatwave and First Cruise of the Year

Hi all,
Last weekend was the warmest on record and not to miss out we decided to have a Bar-b-q at the Shady Oak.  Whilst closed, the pub grounds made for an ideal site to hold a mass Barbi.  It felt soooooo good to be out on the cut again.

We decided to go as a group.  So the gang, as we called ourselves, set off





Sheila, Paul and Dog Albert

We cruised the 45 minutes to the pub and moored jup Tattenhall side of the bridge.  All afternoon other boats from the marina moored up with the crews having the same idea.  At one point over 14 boats moored up, more than ever seen at one time in the past outside the Shady.  Had the pub been open I reckon we'd have drunk them dry.

Chris and Smudge lapping up the sun.

Starting as we meant to go on,  Yours truly, Eric, Paul, Graham and Craig

The afternoon sun was as warm as a summer's day so we enjoyed a sit out on the towpath all afternoon.  Life felt good again.

Weather too good not to sit out and enjoy it

Boats moored up filling the visitors moorings

The Bar-b-q site

more boats, some even doubled up.

At 5 pm the Barbi's were fired up and a good feast was had.  A pleasant evening was had by all.  It was clear everyone enjoyed the night but in the morning all mucked in to clear up.

Evenings get together in full swing

On Sunday we got up and the gang enjoyed some bacon and sausage baps.  We then took a walk up to nearby Warton's Lock to see how the works were progressing.  The new gates were in and beams ready to be installed.  Much of the brickwork was being repointed.

Fed and watered we head out to the lock

Pump keeping the water out and evidence of fresh pointing

The dam holding the canal back

The new gates in place and a beam ready to be installed

The old gates, clearly needed replacing

The pump outlet flowing into the by wash
We packed up and left at 4pm to return to the marina.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Happy New Year

Just a quick blog to thank all our readers and to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.  May 2019 make all your dreams come true.

Happy Cruizin one and all.  May there be plenty water under the base plate and your props stay rubbish free.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Chester for Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone.  Hope you are enjoying the holiday and not over indulging too much :-).

Chris's last working day was the 14th December and a Works Christmas dinner was arrange for 2:30pm at the Cheshire Cat pub.  

Whilst Chris was at work I fettled AmyJo for cruising and left the marina by 10am.  I managed to moor right outside the Cheshire Cat at 1pm.  After walking smudge, I left him at home and went to the pub for a pint.  Whilst there I was invited to join in the feastivities with all Chris's work mates which made for a pleasant afternoon.

Once the meal was over (I abstained by the way) some of Chris's colleagues came back to the boat for a few more drinks and good banter was had by all.  In no time at all 3 bottles of wine had mysteriously evaporated!

After dinner party onboard

On Sunday we returned to the Marina and the following day drove to Essex for a few days to visit family to give them the Christmas prezzies.  Traffic was surprisingly good with the only hold ups around roadworks on the M25.  Its always good to catch up with everyone back South but we're glad to get back home again.

Friday 21st saw us back on AmyJo and again heading to Chester.  This time we wanted to get into Chester before stopping.

His lordship presiding over the cruise

Chris needed to do a food shop so we moored outside Waitrose for a while and then moved onto the first mooring bollards just before the Artichoke bar.  Its quieter here and far enough way form Harkers pub to avoid the shouting and drunken antics.

Next morning Chris took herself off into town Christmas shopping while I moored AmyJo further along the cut.  We managed to moor 3 boats back from the Lock keeper pub and had a pleasant night there.  Glad to report on Chris's return the bank manager is still talking to me.

Moored by Waitrose

Every other Friday in Ye Old Gardeners Arms is Karaoke night.  Pete and Yvonne, good boater friends of ours, have just taken on the pub as landlords so we go there to support them.  Pete likes me to have a go at the Karaoke and with a Christmas theme we both dueted a Bing Crosby and David Bowie number, Peace on earth.  It was so popular we ended up singing it again later after numerous request for us to do so.  

Singing at the Gardeners Arms (video available on request)

Of course being a boater run pub Friday nights would not be the same without our good friends from the marina coming in too!  These are the same people we cruised the Llangollen with this year and always come to support the pub as well.  Pete and Yvonne are 2nd and 3rd on the left.

The Tattenhall gang with Landlord and Landlady, Pete and Yvonne (2nd & 3rd from Left)

If you are in Chester anytime on a Friday evening do look up the Gardeners Arms, its a terrific little pub and Pete and Yvonne will make you more than welcome.  Just tell them Steve on AmyJo sent you (no I'm not on a commission honest, its just a great pub to visit)

On Sunday we headed off to the basin, descending the infamous Northgate locks.  I say infamous because of the number of boaters that do not like or will not use them. I know I mentioned this before but whilst deep, these are the gentlest of the double locks on the Shroppy.  We always enjoy going through these locks.  Even the pigeons are still here riding the gates as they have done for the last 4 years. 

Descending the Northgate top lock

Looking down the flight

We found the basin pretty full with most mooring spaces taken and wondered if we would be able to stop.  We did find a spot just after the turn bridge opposite Taylors boat yard right next to the CRT fascilities.  Bonus though very shaded by the surrounding tall buildings.

Initial mooring in the basin
A few days later a boat moved off the visitors mooring nearest to the water tap so we moved AmyJo over into their spot, double bonus.  We have been here since then.  It more open here and enabled us to take better advantage of the little sunshine we have had to use our new solar panels.  Glad to say we're getting 1.5 amps even on a dull day.

Christmas Eve dawned grey and foggy.  Despite being the festive season the day felt dowdy.  We rose late again and pottered about for the rest of the day not really doing much.

Foggy Christmas Eve Morning

When spending Christmas Eve in Chester we always like to attend the midnight mass in the Cathedral, it always has a special feel to it and for us is the start of Christmas proper.  The city was alive with people and looked great with the lights and Xmas tree outside the town hall.

Christmas tree outside the town hall

Inside the Cathedral people gathered and we found a seat near the bronze nativity scene.  The service started at 11pm and finished just after midnight.  We always enjoy this service after which we returned to AmyJo for a night cap and bed.  

Midnight mass in the cathedral and the nativity scene

When we got back to the boat I was going to take Smudge for a last walk but there was no sign of him, unusual, as he always greets us at the door when we come in.  I got a bit worried at first fearing something was amiss but need not have worried.  We found him fast asleep in his fav night time place.....

We had a lovely Christmas day onboard after once again rising late, 10:30pm sort of late.  Chris excelled with a fabulous dinner even though she was on the sherry,  a tradition for her when cooking Christmas dinner. It was really nice, just the two of us.  We realised this is probably the first Christmas on our own since the girls were born.  We then visited the girls in the evening to give them their presents

Today, Boxing Day, we took Smudge for a walk round the city walls and stopped for a drink at the Abode.  We were out nearly all day and tonight I took Smudge out for his evening walk in thick fog.  The basin shrouded in fog and looking like a scene from a movie.  I was waiting for the spy to appear but no sign of him.  My glad as I forgot the secret phrase anyway.

Our current mooring in the glow of a foggy night

So there you are all updated.  We'll be stopping a while in Chester before returning to Tattenhall so Chris and I would like to wish you a wonderful New Year and may all your dreams come true in 2019.