Daisypath - Anniversary

Friday, 23 June 2017

Back To Chester and a meeting of good friends

We stayed four nights in all at Ellesmere Port museum and whilst there on the Saturday working historic boat Shad was giving demonstrations of locking up and down passing our mooring each time to turn round.  This gave me a prime photo opportunity and a chance to play with the camera settings a little.

The impressive and high bow of an unladen Shad

Pin hole camera setting in black and white.  Could almost be an old photo I guess
Time to move on Sunday and so I took AmyJo back down stream to Caughal bridge near the Chester Zoo.

I have to say I was disappointed this time round visiting the museum for several reasons.  Due to lack of traffic the canal from Backford on is now silting up again and weed is a big issue as you approach the port.  I had to hold off whilst the museum trip boat winded and ended completely wrapping the prop in string weed that nearly stalled the engine.   I manage to limp into the port slowly and spent 20 minutes removing said weed when moored.

Further, the museum is now finding finance difficult and is beginning to run down.  I heard from staff that the submerged historic boats were due to be removed into warehouse storage to await their fate as funding for restoration simply was not available.  The manager wanting to use the pound they are in to raise income by allowing fishing to take place there instead.  There seems no enthusiasm to encourage visiting boats to go there either.

If you do want to visit you are faced with no facilities and using pins on the island moorings to moor up.  Be prepared to work hard hammering them in too as large concrete sections exist just below the grass so several replacing and hammering like hell is required.

Mooring rings are almost non existant and not well spaced,  usually located where a submerged wreck is positioned unknown to the unwary visitor, so a ring may look inviting but check with a pole first to avoid parking on top of one.  The levels do rise and fall so could catch you out.  

Only one water taps is available for use for the boater by the museum shop but is not easily accessed due to the trip boat which is usually moored just outside the top lock gate and leaves little room to get to the tap so a long hose is needed.  Oh and there appears no facility for elsan disposal or pump out visible too.

Sadly my advise now is, don't bother if time constrained.  The mooring fee is £19 for two people for the first night (though this is access for a year to be fair) and £4 a night there after but you do get to view the museum as much as you like during your stay, provided that is, there will be much left to see from the sound of it.

So, on with our cruise, and I moored up in a super little spot within walking distance of Chester Zoo in the countryside.  The weather now decidably hot made the spot even more saticfactory as we could let Smudge off to roam free on is long wire lead as often as he wanted.  I still don't fully trust him not to dart off again yet.  

We were prepared to stay here a week but an instant Facebook message from Del and Al on Derwent 6 (click) informing us they were headed for Chester changed that idea.

The mooring near Chester Zoo
 Most of us enjoyed some lovely hot weather and we were no exception.  In 30+C I moved AmyJo back to the Chester Basin and topped up my tan on the way. I love cruising in the sun and it makes all life's woes melt away when I do. I don't ask for more.   Even the shorts saw light of day for the first time this millenia!

Impressive 5 arch bridge near Backford carries the railway high above the canal
On arriving at the basin I was surprised to find it completely empty apart from one boat on the mooring opposite the dry dock.  I moored at the first visitor mooring within hose length of the water tap, bonus don't have to move to top up.

Next morning a familiar boat came through Northgate locks being Del and Al on Derwent6 who moored directly behind AmyJo.

Now call me daft if you will but seeing AmyJo and Derwent6 together is quite a big deal for me and something I always hoped I would see.  

If any of you have followed our blog from the early days will know Del and Al showed us around Derwent6 at Crick when we were first looking to have AmyJo built.  We then met them again the following year at Wrenbury on the Llangollen canal.  It was at this meeting that after talking to them our dream suddenly became a reality thanks to their advise

So seeing Derwent6 and AmyJo together for me represents the start of our journey towards living the dream and AmyJo the dream come true.

On Thursday Del and Al went off to explore the city as this was their first time here with Derwent6 so they wanted to make the most of it.

In the evening we found out there was live entertainment in Telford's Warehouse and being music lovers we went over and had a great night listening to Alex Green who was absolutely brilliant. 

All having a blast despite only having our phones and no camera
with us so not a good quality picture.
Today, Friday, Del and Al had to move on as they will be cruising further north to meet up with friends Mark and Sian on another lovely Fernwood boat.  We will cross paths again so have planned a stop over all together during our cruise later next month.

It was fab to see them again and we thoroughly enjoyed their company once again.  Hats of to them for keeping the boat immaculate.  Derwent6 gleams as good as new even though she is now 9 ears old.  Now where is that polish Chris?

Derwent6 departs and prepares to ascend the Northgate Locks 
As for us, we will be hanging around the Chester area until the end of the month as Chris has her end of term works do in Chester so we want to remain close by.  Also this weekend is the roving traders market up by Cow Lane Bridge, another reason to stay a little longer over the weekend.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Cat, Crick, Chester and beyond

Well reader,
I've been really lazy the last few weeks where the blog is concerned, in fact, now the nice weather is here I've actually been very lazy full stop!

We have, however, been on the move since our last post so time for a catch up.  

If you recall we were moored on our favorite mooring at Waverton for a week.  On the Wednesday it was time to move AmyJo so we (the royal we that is) cruised all of one mile up stream to the Cheshire Cat Pub and hotel.

The moorings here are quite pleasant and the Cat does a lovely menu, well being moored outside it would be rude not to wouldn't it?

Its been working out that we stop 7 days at each location before getting itchy feet to move so after a week at the cat and needing water I moved up to the water point by the Old Trooper some 800 yards further up the canal from the cat and stopped there for another 7 days after reversing back off the water point..

Of course, like everyone else we had booked into Crick show so cruised AmyJo back to Tattenhall marina to stop whilst we were away.  As always the show was packed with boats and people and for once the weather behaved whilst we were there.

It was also interesting to see that our two tone Grey colour scheme seemed to be popular with some of the show boats this year.  These were the same colour shades but in reverse.  They looked superb.

On the second day the crowds were bigger so we decided to take a stroll along the towpath.  Up to now Smudge had behaved impeccably and was handling the sea of legs and other dogs really well considering we spend most of the time out in the country.  Poor chap was having a sensory overload but he never complained once.  His fave stall just happened to be the Fernwood stall as he received a lot of doggy treats from the girls on the stand! 

Not looking as busy this year on the cut
 Poor Smudge could not managed the temporary bridge across the cut.  The pressed out grip holes in the flooring beams clearly hurt his paws so a carry was in order.  For being a good doggy he was awarded a snazzy bandanna to wear afterwards.

Enjoying having the weight off his paws and his new bandanna

No canal boat show would be complete without an appearance from these two!
 This boat had its roof covered in toy ducks.  It would appear the owners were looking for a suitable duck to place over the mooring pins but could not find one suitable.  So many friends donated toy ducks they became a feature of the boat when moored.

These are but a tiny part of the collection

Once more we went to Crick with a small shopping list but once again came away having spent far more than we should have.

After the show we took ourselves off to Essex for a brief visit to the parents and then returned to AmyJo.  After a night in the marina club house for the not to be missed open mike night we (yes all three of us this time) headed out and cruised back to the Cheshire Cat for a few days.

To be honest nothing noteworthy was done for the following days apart from regular walks for Smudge, though with the settled weather I did manage to get some rust treated and painted on the gunwale Starboard deck.

From here we moved up to Chester spending a few days by Cow Lane bridge then moved down into the basin via the Northgate Staircase after a quick stop at Tower Gardens moorings for a spot of lunch.  Its quite interesting single handing down this staircase best done roping the boat down but I don't think I'd want to try going up on my own.

Once in the basin I found a handy mooring opposite the dry dock that was not a visitor mooring so managed to stay there for a week.  The basin has new apartment blocks and one nearby has C&RT showers and toilets built into it.  It also has a hidden water point at the other end to give us drinking water to fill the tank without having to move (note a long hose is needed).  This spot is normally reserved for C&RT working boats but after a chat with the guys crewing the work boat was given the OK to moor there as it would mean the mooring would be kept free for them on their return later next week.   We do just fit behind the work boat when it there to be honest so have moored there before.

Once again after our 7 days of chilling out and visiting the town I filled the water tank, winded AmyJo, and headed up stream towards Ellesmere Port.  The plan was to stop near Chester zoo and when I got there the moorings were deserted.  It was a lovely sunny day so after a bit of early lunch and a walk for Smudge I decided to head on into the canal boat museum.  

Mooring is relatively cheap there although the only amenities are toilets (during open hours) and a water tap outside the shop.  Parking is a bit hit and miss as the car park is locked between 5pm and 8am so if you need a car during that time you need to park outside the car park. 

Your first night fee is your visit fee per person for the museum (£19.50 for two) then its only £4 pound per night there after.  For the fee you get an annual pass to visit the museum any time and as often as you like too.  So good value I reckon.
AmyJo moored in exactly the same spot when
we did the Shipping Canal trip a few years ago.

View of the Mersey estuary

The forecast over the next few days is for a mini heat wave.  If this is the case we intend to give the cratch cover a good scrub to remove the green winter rime and re waterproof it.  Its not done too bad for the last three years so it will do it some good.  I also want to get a bit more painting done where one or two small rust spots are appearing on the bow and stern decks.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy as a dog in s......

 We moved up the Shroppie to the Shady Oak Pub.  I had to move AmyJo whilst Chris was at work and so felt a sense of achievement for negotiating Iron lock single handed.  Iron lock is rare on the Shroppie as the sides are iron panels.  The drawback is C&RT are unable to fit ladders in the chamber so when single handing its necessary to rope the boat in and out of the lock. Auite hard going.

We spent a week on the mooring opposite the Shady Oak and as the weather finally set fair I manage to do a few touch up paint jobs much over due.  

The fine weather brought with it some stunning sunsets like this one

Glorious Sunset

On Wednesday it was time to move on again and so I pushed AmyJo across the cut to the pub jetty to fill with water as we were getting low.  I had Smudge on his lead tied to the bunny seats on the stern and as I stepped off to tie up Smudge tried to follow.  His lead being too short brought him up short and a dunking ensued.  Whilst the water filled I towelled him down and set him on the roof in the warm sun to dry off feeling sorry for himself.  I guess he's a real boat dog now.

Watering outside the pub in lovely warm sunshine

Smudge drying off after his swim, none the worse for his dunking.
A gentle cruise found us moored up outside Tattenhall Marina for a few nights.  I had a date on the first Saturday of the month as its Open Mike night in the bar and a chance to play the bass guitar and have a good old singalong.  

On the Sunday after we upped pins and moved AmyJo upstream on our fave mooring at Eggbridge in Waverton.  This mooring is a delight and has a very convenient car park right on the tow path.  Its a 7 day mooring here so we made the most of it.

By now high pressure was fully in charge and the Hobbit fire was allowed to go out and put into hibernation

Picturesque spot at eggbridge and calm water reflections
 The local duck population are a bit noisy here but by the looks of it they have been busy as numerous ducklings abound here.  Young mums with toddlers frequent here so the ducks are well catered for as far as feeding goes.

Just one of many families of ducks at Eggbridge
 When walking Smudge I generally let him off the lead on the country tow path walks nowadays as he has good recall.  Waverton is no exception so for a few days he was free to run and sniff around as we walked.  On one occasion, however, he shot through a small gap in a hedge into a field full of horses.  My fear was they would rear up or kick him but I need not have worried as they happily played with him whilst he ran amongst them, him chasing them and them chasing him but ignoring my calls for him to return.

When he did eventually return it was clear he was as happy as a dog in s.. literally!  Tail wagging, ten a dozen he was covered head to tail in horse muck and stunk to high heaven.  He was in the shower quicker than you can say Pew!  He is walked on the lead more now.

Not seen one of these before nor can we find out what breed it is.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Bovine Encounter and a View to Die For, literally.

Ever since we moved AmyJo to Tattenhall we promised ourselves we would one day make the climb up to Beeston Castle.  Today, with the weather looking settled and whilst we're moored nearby we decided we would fullfill that promise.

After lunch we packed a backpack with water and Smudge's treats and set off with Smudge along the towpath to Wharton's Lock.  Here a turnstile leads onto a footpath across fields to the castle.

There is a convenient tunnel under the nearby railway that is gated either side.  On the far side are more fields, the first containing cows.  Now neither Chris nor I have been up close to cows until today and this particular herd took a bit more interest in Smudge than I like and so we pushed on keeping him on a short lead.   It was a bit frightening when a dozen of them decided to follow us trying to get to Smudge who was happily trying to play tag with them.  Luck was with us and another dog walker appeared and the cows seemed to prefer their Collie more so we made our escape.  Perhaps Lisa's David on WaL (What a Lark) could advise how to deal with inquisitive cows please?

Having survived the cows we neared the castle hill
 There is a lovely manicured farm house at the foot of the hill, in fact, the farm is the neatest and most well kept we have ever seen.  Not a blade of grass out of place.

The bowling green lawn outside the farm house
 The entrance to the castle grounds is via an impressive gate house that also serves and a gift shop.  Here you can buy anything from a pen to a full suit of armour, though I would not recommend the latter as its to darn heavy to lug back to the boat.

The castle gatehouse
The climb up to the summit is quite gentle at first but don't be fooled as it steepens the further up you go.  Clearly designed to wear out attackers before they reached their goal, however, even half way up the views are to die for.  I reckon many an attacker died on their way and as would see these views.  A view to literally die for.  Its clear to see why the castle is so located.

Only a third the way up

but still one can see for miles
 The last section to the inner Bailey is the steepest by far.  One certainly gets to work ones lunch off getting to the top but persevere the prize at the top is well worth the hike.  They do provide strategically placed benches to rest along the way.  They are quite comfy too!

The main castle keep atop the hill

And steeper approach ramp over a very steep drop.
 On reaching the summit your are greeting with amazing views of the Cheshire plain from the Wirral right across to Wales.

A zoomed in view of the Shady Oak and the canal where AmyJo hides behind the larger tree

A panorama of the Welsh hills
According to Wikipedia Beeston Castle is a former Royal castle, perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 feet (107 m) above the Cheshire Plain. It was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester on his return from the Crusades. In 1237, Henry III took over the ownership of Beeston, and it was kept in good repair until the 16th century, when it was considered to be of no further military use, although it was pressed into service again in 1643, during the English Civil War. The castle was partly demolished in 1646, in accordance with Cromwell's destruction order, to prevent its further use as a stronghold.
Not a lot left  and you can just make out Peckforton Castle nearby
 A final look round before we left and we spotted Tattenhall Marina in the distance.

The marina is centre and canal on the right

Were these the doors to the main hall perhaps?

Wall of the outer Bailey

The castle is now in obvious ruins. The walls of the outer bailey, along with the walls and gatehouse of the inner bailey, are separately recorded in the National Heritage List for England as designated Grade I listed buildings. The castle is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned by English Heritage. It is rumoured that treasure belonging to Richard II lies undiscovered in the castle grounds, but the many searches that have been carried out have failed to find any trace of it. Quite surprising when you consider during the 18th century the site was used as a quarry.

One of the caves formed by quarrying

 Close up view of the hill taken on our way back to AmyJo
Retracing our route back we were relieved to find the cows had moved far over the other side of the field and were oblivious to our presence.   We then collapsed in the chair for a well earned rest.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Gunwale painting and Abandoned Hire Boat Recovery

Having stopped overnight at Bunbury Wharf we backed AmyJo up to the lock and round into the poly tunnel used by Anglo welsh to paint their boats. .  It was quite tight getting her round under the bridge 'ole and into the polytunnel but she got there with inches to spare.

Half way into the tunnel a familiar rattle could be heard, and the tiller shook profusely and then the engine stalled.  We had picked up a prop jockey but we were not prepared for what we found when I went down the weed hatch.  This....

It was the air trunking from an industrial space heater.  Presumably left in the cut from days when the wharf was in use before Anglo Welsh took it over.  It survived the Axiom only by the strong wire spiral that forms its shape.  Unfortunately that same wire wrapped up the axiom completely into a large tangled mass. Two hours later we finally removed the trunking and settled in for the night.  

Over the next few days I got on with the task of repainting the gunwales.  I used Fertan rust cure for newly bared steel, following up with undercoat/primer and finally top coat.  The tunnel has a space heater so we could keep nice and warm for painting despite the chilly temperatures outside.

A nice snug fit

The Starboard gunwales before work commenced

and the Port side

Port side finished

and the bow.  Have to say they turned out quite good even if I do say so myself
With the work done by Wednesday we moved AmyJo back out onto the main wharf as we were staying to help out on the Anglo Welsh open day again.

On Wednesday Steve, the yard manager, got a call from his American hirers saying they would not be returning their hire boat as they found the locks "Far too arduous" and had checked into a hotel.  The boat was abandoned by Cow Lane bridge in Chester.  Somehow Steve had to get the boat back but was short on hands to do it so I volunteered my services.

Next day, together with a good friend Mark, Smudge and I set off from Chester in the abandoned hire boat and thanks to all the locks being in our favour we got back to Bunbury by tea time, in good time for the boat to be prepared for its next hirers the following day.

Bring Andton home for Anglo welsh
 Smudge, bless him, was at first confused.  Why were we on this strange boat dad?  Its not as nice as our home is it?  Still he soon settled into the routine adopting his now favourite look out position.

All clear ahead Cap'n but mind this boat here.
We ended the week with Bunbury open day and once more I manned their day boat, Bella, for them. The weather was kind if a little chilly and we reckon we gave about 150 folk a trip along the cut to Tilstone lock and back.  I do believe a few bookings were made to hire the boats too.

Happy passengers at the mercy of yours truly at the helm (I never lost one overboard, honest)
Not wanting to over do Steve's hospitality on Tuesday we moved up to the Shady Oak for a few days and will now work our way up to Ellesmere Port over the next few week,s having now started our new phase of living out on the cut for the summer. 

So far we're enjoying it immensely and Chris loves coming home after work to a different place.  We have an app on the mobile phone called "Find my friends" and she can locate AmyJo and I using that.  Her work mates find it amusing she does not know where home will be until she finishes work each day.  Good job we don't row that often, I might turn my locator off so she cannot find me :-)

Total distance:2.93 miles Elapsed time:3h29m14s Locks:Bridges:4 
Average speed:0.84 mph (1.99 lock/mph)