Sunday 8 March 2015

Has Spring Sprung?

As I sit typing this, outside are signs that perhaps, at last, spring may have sprung. The sun is streaming in through the port hole as it sets and the local population of ducks in the marina are becoming more and more amorous, squawking and flapping around their prospective mates. The day time temperature has been quite pleasant out of the wind and signs of spring flowers are everywhere.   Lighting the fire is getting later and later in the evening as its getting warmer generally.

Now the daylight hours are drawing out and its light when I get back from work I can see AmyJo is looking a tad jaded after her winter in the marina so now the weather seems to be improving we'll look to giving her a good clean and polish and a bit of TLC. She has weathered the winter well and our polishing last year has paid off though months of log burners on the go, from ours, and other boats have left a film of dust and soot over her that will wash off easy enough. A bit of elbow grease will have her sparkling again no doubt. Would love to know how Joe keeps nb Yarwood so shiny all the time!

Last weekend in a lull in weather we managed a short trip down the Shroppie to the now closed Shady Oak pub for one night just to clear the cobwebs and stretch our legs for a bit. It sure felt good to feel the cut flowing under the baseplates again even if it was only for a little run and it was clear AmyJo was enjoying stretching her prop too!  Traffic was non existent and we had the cut to ourselves whilst on the move.  Signs of an imminent re-opening of the pub are to be seen with evidence of a re-fit taking place inside. So hope the Shady will be open again. It used to be a great pub years ago and is so convenient for us on the cut.  The next pub is either in Barbridge or Chester.

Chris decided to helm most of the way there and clearly enjoyed it.

Beeston Castle looking resplendent the cold air.

Our mooring opposite The Shady Oak Pub.
We also had a visit the other day from Corrine and Mark from Dee O Ghee (click) with their new crew member Buster the dog. They stopped by to check on their boat and had a coffee and catch up with us.  It was great to see them again and meet Buster.  He is such a lovely dog and so well behaved for a youngster too. We missed them leave Tattenhall for the last time over the weekend as they are moving marinas so as to be closer to home. We'll miss them here but wish them well on their new moorings. Sorry we missed you both as you left. See you out and about on the cut sometime.
Introducing a very well behaved Buster of Dee O Ghee.
Like most boaters we too are starting to make our cruising plans for for this season. As Chris is tied to School holidays we're a bit limited when we can both get time off.  We're planning a two week trip up the Llangollen after Easter and hope to reach the town this time. I've also booked with C&RT for passage through Frankton locks so we can take in the Montgomery canal on our way back. We did the Llangollen a few years back by hire boat but did not have time to take in the Mont so its high on our list of places to visit for this trip.

Later in the Summer we hope to do a round robin onto the river Weaver via the Manchester Shipping Canal and the Anderton lift but have no date set yet. We were inspired to do this following Adam and Adrian of Briar Rose's (Click) trip last year.  They posted a great blog about their trip on the canal (Click) and some useful advise about it too (Click).  The guide provided by the Shipping canal company prefers boats to make passage in convoy or rafted together for stability if possible. If anyone else is thinking of making the trip we'd love to hear from you and perhaps we could go together as a group? There are several Criteria you will need to follow and there is a useful guide downloadable from their web site (Click
if anyone is tempted.  
As for the rest of the season, we have no further plans but an imminent change at work, as I am another year closer to retirement, will mean we should be able to cruise a little bit more this season. More on this on a later date when its finalised.  The rest of the season we'll have to be content with weekend cruising.

This weekend with a favourable weather forecast, we slipped the lines and headed up into Chester.  Chris and youngest had some retail therapy planned and it gave me the opportunity to get the polish out in the lovely warm sunshine whilst they bent the plastic (at least they did not break it - sighs with relief).  Eldest has a milestone birthday in a few weeks so some serious shopping was required, at least that's what I was told :-)  Dad knows best and got on with the polishing.  Its not a good idea to resist when my girls get together, believe me I tried once.  Who just said Petticoat government then? Oh and yes little fingers and twist come to mind :-)

By chance we spotted via twitter that Brain McGuigan on Alton coal boat was headed into Chester as well and was not far behind us.  We were going to replenish our dwindling coal supply when back at the marina but a 4pm whilst we were moored near Cow Lane bridge, Brain pulled alongside and we took on board 3 bags of his coal.

Alton pulled in while we stocked up with coal

Brain, Andy and Alton head off to Ellesmere Port

We had a super evening in the local Indian restaurant, The Barton Rouge.  If you ever cruise into Chester you simply must give this restaurant a try.  It has to be one of the best Indian restaurants around, with fantastic food and service.  I suggest you book ahead as its very popular and is always busy. 

This morning started very wet and so we sat out waiting for it to stop but was pleasantly surprised by a visit from Chris's school caretaker, Ray and his wife.  After they left we donned our wet gear and got under way.  Whilst in the first lock (Tarvin Lock) and nearly ready to leave Brian's crew, Andy, appeared and we agreed to wait for them it Chemistry Lock.

Whilst waiting the sun put in an appearance and then the rain stopped.  The day brightened and warmed nicely from then on.   It took some time for Alton to join us as they had been stopped for fuel and coal by boats moored below but then we were in no hurry so were quite happy to wait in the lock.  We then shared the locks up to Christleton. We bought a fender from Brian for our morning neighbour as we had spoken to her about Alton's fenders as she needed one.  We paid a lot less than one would in a certain Chandlers then, as Brian had customers at the Old trooper we parted our ways and we carried on.

Brain and I were so busy chatting we did not see the lock gates open for us,
so got a telling off from Chris, much to Brian's amusement.  
We got back to Tattenhall at around 5pm and I confess to making a complete b*lls up of turning onto the mooring but after a couple of abortive attempts we got the lines tied off thanks to help from Dave and Sheila our mooring neighbours

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