Tuesday 30 August 2016

Home stretch and a much over due catch up.

Apologies for not posting for a few weeks.  Things have been happening quite fast so not had time to blog

So to bring you up to date.  We last left you at Goldstone Wharf.  From here we carried on through the wooded cuttings around these parts of the canal.  Chris helmed AmyJo through the Tryley Locks (pronounced Turley) to keep her hand in.

One of several Cuttings a along these parts of the canal
 Needing another shop we stopped off at Market Drayton, picking up a mooring alongside this pill box.  Workmen were busy clearing the bushes and path leading up to the road.

As Pill boxes go this one is quite impressive
 After a spot of lunch and getting the shopping we carried on passing nb Swamp Frogs as we headed out of town.  The moorings here are quite up market and look delightful.

nb Swap Frogs but no sign of her crew though they must be nearby.

When we started cruising in hire boats we used to see several little canalside huts offering fresh produce.  Sadly nowadays these are few and far between here in the North West so we were pleased to come across this one at the Adderley Locks.  We bought the Pork Pie and Apple pie and very scrummy they were indeed. 

A sample on offer with Sausages and Bacon in the black cool box

No one in sight and the honesty box was a lot fuller when we left.
After descending the Adderley locks we called it a day at the visitor moorings above the Audlem locks.  We were treated to this lovely sunset in the evening.

Lovely sunset above Audlem Locks
We have tried to moor at Audlem twice before.  The first time was the Historic narrowboat rally with 32C temperatures when bringing AmyJo to Tattenhall from Crick.  Last time was in February and the locks were closed for winter works so this time we resolved to moor by the Shroppie fly if we could.

We started the descent through the locks at Audlem in warm sunshine at 7:30am.  The forecast was for it to be hot so we wanted to get down the flight before the sun warmed the day too much.  

Sure enough by 9am the temperatures were in the upper 20s.  We made good progress down the flight and were lucky to find a lovely sunny mooring above lock 12 just before the Shroppie Fly.  At 11:30am the temps were in the 30s so we were glad of the mooring.  We got the chairs out and whiled the day away sunbathing and just chilling.  A rare treat for us.
Our neighbour on the moorings was a gent called Brian.  We had a good chat and he showed us round his superbly restored old working boat.  She's only 40 foot with a riveted hull.  Brian found her in a really poor state but he has had her beautifully restored and has created an impressive space inside the little cabin.  Once aboard you would think you were on a 55 footer.  

Brian's superbly restored little boat with big proportions inside.
 In the late afternoon we took a walk into the village.  The locks were busy with boats coming and going so we felt quite smug that we had an easy day sitting in the sunshine watching it all go by.

Looking back up the flight

The visitors moorings below the Shroppie Fly were fairly empty but soon filled up by evening

The Lord Combermere pub does excellent food.

The village church.
The following day turned out to be another scorcher.  We left at 8pm and after watering opposite the Shroppie Fly we followed a single hander down the last of the locks.  Chris helped him and then turned the locks as no one was coming up.  The chap she was helping gave us some valuable help closing the gates when descending as a single hander.  We put his advise to good use.

Entering Lock 12 by the Shroppie Fly

Approaching the next

Finally the bottom lock
 Whilst descending the single hander would motor out of the bottom of the lock and then using his boat pole would first shut the gate opposite the by-wash and then the gate nearest.  This helped push the boat back onto a straight line to proceed.  Using this new technique we worked the last locks with Chris working the lock ahead for the single hander then leaving him to close the bottom gates as he left.  During this time I would empty my lock, climb aboard, exit and close my lock gates with the pole and proceed while Chris turned the next lock for me.

At one of the locks we were passed by an Anglo Welsh hire boat.  It was clear they had not long picked the boat up for as he approached the lock he hit the bridge hard careering across from that he then wedged the boat in the lock opening.  Much revving and thrashing later he eventually got the boat into the lock.  No wonder many of the locks fail during the summer season with treatment like that.

This hire boater bounced off the bridge and crashed about getting into the lock
Clearly not used to by washes
Shortly after the Audlem Locks we came across Mountbatten and her butty but no sign of life aboard.  I wonder if they have new owners yet?

Mountbatten and butty laid up together.
 We were on a mission today to reach Bunbury so a late one was ahead.  With that in mind we stopped for lunch on the now busy Nantwich moorings.  Luck was with us and we managed to get a mooring just before the aqueduct.

Approaching Nantwich Aqueduct moorings that looked really busy.
 We had a fab lunch  in the Wickstead Arms at a very good rate.

Now replete we headed on over the aqueduct and ahead there was a queue of very slow moving boats.  Seams a day boat full of drunken young ladies were going at tick over chatting and laughing oblivious of the chaos they were creating behind them.

Leaving the aqueduct behind we slowed to an almost stop
 To make matters worse the boat ahead of us decided he wanted to stop for water despite a boat already on the point.  He decided to raft alongside said boat taking an age to clear the way and we finally weaved our way around him and the moored boats opposite to take up station behind the day boat.

Squeezing through the throng of moored boats was not easy.  The hire boat behind did well to get through too.
I wanted to pass the day boat but in the girls state I dare not disturb them as they were not standing or sitting too well, the boat heeling over on its side at an alarming angle!  After a mile or so they eventually spotted the queue behind them and let us all pass.

At the Henshall bridge moorings we came across this unusual conversion.  Clearly the owner wanted an open plan feel for his boat, so open plant the lounge was open to the sky.

Open air living perhaps?
 We passed through a very busy Barbridge Junction with the In  doing a brisk trade judging from the large number of customers in the garden.

On the way to Bunbury we found sitting up on deck more comfortable as the slight breeze created by our passage helped to cool us down in the heat of the day. 

Sitting on deck to cool down
We eventually made Bunbury at 5pm just before the volunteer lockies left for the day and quickly descended the locks doing the famous shuffle with a hire boat with us and one coming up.  We moored for the night on Anglo Welsh wharf with their permission and was amazed to find we were the only boat there.  Their entire fleet was out for hire!  The following morning we made our way back to Tattenhall.

With a brief overnight aboard we packed and headed for Essex for the week.  My mother is laid up in hospital in a bad way.  She's now been there 4 weeks and is improving only slowly.  We're in for a long haul for her recovery so we'll not be cruising far for the time being.  Dad is giving me constant updates and is optimistic mum will make a full recovery but she'll need rehabilitation before she can return home.  

Next post we'll have some news to share as AmyJo is going to have a new temporary crew member joining us tomorrow and a new permanent crew member next week.  Will reveal all later.

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