Friday 29 June 2018

Oops done it again!

Hi reader,
    Wow where have the weeks gone!  I did not realise it was sooooo long since our last post so once again, groveling on bended knee, I do apologise.  It was a friend at Chris's school that reminded me it had been a while and that she missed reading our blog. I realised how long it has been so here we go with a brief potted history of the last couple of months .

So where to begin?  Was it really February that I last posted, OMG?  

In March we had our 14 night cruise to Norway on the P&O ship Oriana To celebrate our 60th birth days and 40 years of marriage all this year.  Its a holiday that I will never forget as we enjoyed it immensely and Norway is such a beautiful country with out of this world scenery.  Being waited on hand on foot in 5 star opulence can grow on one quickly and we were sad to leave Oriana.

The trip took us from Southampton to Andalsnes then Tromso and into the arctic circle to Alta and back via Stravanger.   Just our luck the temperatures had warmed to -10c at night and on one day in Andalsnes it was 11C, 6C warmer than the UK!  Added to this we only briefly saw the Northern lights which was a shame but we did not mind, there was plenty of other things to do and see and some great memories made.

At -5C and up a mountain one had to wrap up warm, under this lot I wore Thermals, trousers, t shirt, 2 jumpers and a fleece, thermal socks, gloves and snow boots and it was dam cold in the wind.

We woke up to this view one morning as we cruise into a fjord.The photo simply does not do it justice
Stunning where ever one looked.

The good Ship Oriana at her mooring in Andalsnes

Bitter cold and snowing whilst at sea but someone had tried to use the swimming pool that was freezing over 
Just look at the hand rail on the right of the pool!

Walking the promenade deck was more physical exercise against cold and wind in the F7 seas.
This was us just before they closed the outside decks off as the weather got up to f9 and Oraina was bouncing around nicely.

Chris getting ready to go out on our snow mobile experience in Alta.  It was great fun riding on a frozen lake in untouched
snow.  Stopping for a while to take in the views.

Ice Cathedral in Tromso was so beautiful inside

The dog sledding in Alta was a fab experience and after we were allowed to go to the dogs and fuss them which
they like immensely.

Other sledges race home after us and a well earned feed for the dogs.  They loved every minute pulling us
at great speed with much gusto and clearly relished to run.

The old wooden houses of Stavanger.  These are rare in Norway as when the Nazis retreated
they burned everything in sight so most buildings in Norway are post war.  Few, like these, survived
Back in the UK we got AmyJo ready for summer cruising.  Later in Maywe enjoyed a day at the Crick boat show.  It was a hot day and great to catch up with the Fernwood crew and some of the owners too.

We finally left the marina in Mid April but only managed to travel a few miles back and forth between marina, Waverton and Cheshire Cat. Each time returning to the marina to leave AmyJo whilst we attended visits South to see the parents and other commitments.

Meanwhile the engine was due its service which we booked with Chris Jones.  Whilst we had a few days to spare and with the baseplate and engine room paint beginning to rust, I stripped out the covers and steps and set too cleaning, rust curing and painting the steel.  I got most done but after painting with the bilge paint and having to keep the doors closed due to rain the boat stank of paint so bad I had to stop and will wait for warmer weather to continue, but, as you know now its far too hot to do anything :-) 

all clean and primed

The end result but the other side of the engine still needs to be donw

Can't recall where May went but much of it was spent trying to repaint AmyJo's fore deck as wear from foot traffic when mooring up and rust spots were beginning to make her look untidy.  I've got the primer and undercoats on but now its far to hot to do the finish coats, oh well not to worry :-)

We did manage a short cruise to Nantwich over the May bank holiday and met up with Eric and Paul on their boats there.  They also moor at the marina with us.  A jolly couple of day was had then we said our goodbyes and headed of back to Chester.

With the announcement of the rebrand the new C&RT signs started appearing in Nantwich and they do stand out more than the old ones I must say.

New blue signs do stand out compared to the old ones

Despite the condemning by many of the new logo C&RT are now pressing hard to try attract newcomers to the waterside.  Quite how this will increase their income I fail to see.  How will numerous walkers, cyclists and runners bring the kind cash sums needed into the C&RT coffers when access is free I don't know?  It the boaters licenses that bring in the money and for my two penneth I feel C&RT seem to be turning it's back on those,  my views only by the way, and not intended to start another of the numerous arguments that have ensued since the announcement of the rebrand.  Only time will tell if it turns out to be a rebrand fail, hey ho.

On our return, passage was brought to an abrupt stop as the cut grapevine warned us we should stop and moor by Chas Harden's boatyard as a tree had fallen blocking the cut.  Being a warm day we decided not to rush when the tree was clear but stayed over night.  I took the opportunity to give Smudge a good run and armed with my camera set of to see what was what.  Sure enough a good size tree was clean across the canal so that not even a duck could get by.

The fallen tree blocking passage just before Beeston Stone lock

Luckily historic narrowboats Saturn and her tow Buckden were stopped close by on their way to Ellesmere port.  When the contractors turned up they announced they could do nothing as they would need a boat.  Gentle pleading with Saturn's crew on my part lead them to offer Saturn's fordeck as a platform to work from for which the contractors were extremely grateful.  Baring in mind the age and historic value of Saturn this was by no means an easy decision on the part of her crew considering the risk of damage that could be caused to her fore deck.  We are really grateful to the crew for agreeing to my request and glad to say Saturn was kept damage free..

Less than three hours later the blockage was cleared much to the delight of now growing number of boats and their crews that had been arriving in the meantime.

Saturn's crew maneuver her into position for the contractors to clear the tree.

Into June and on the 3rd we celebrated our 40th Wedding anniversary in glorious sunshine.  We were treated to afternoon tea in the Abode in Chester courtesy of our two lovely daughters Amy an Joanne. 

Wedding anniversary selfie

The three most important girls in my life, Amy (Left) Chris and Joanne

By now the weather was really hotting up to the current temperatures we are having now and poor Smudge with his thick winter coat was beginning to struggle with the heat.  He just laid around the boat panting all day and even refused his walks, unheard of for him.  We decided to get him clipped as soon as we could and it made such a difference both to his looks and his comfort in the heat.   He looks quite smart now and is constantly being praised as a handsome chap by passers by.  Of course he laps up all the attention.

Much cooler, slimmer looking Smudge.  Quite like him with short hair now, 
but he  was not impressed at first as the look on his face shows.

Finally we have had to call off our trip to Liverpool and have made other plans.  First the Middlewich breach meant a trip via the Manchester Shipping canal to Marsh Farm lock onto the river Weaver and then the Anderton lift.  Then we got news of  Marsh Farm lock being taken out of service due to severe damage to one of the gates so would need to go further to Paloma lock at much more expense.  The final straw was news on Facebook of another breach near Melling on the leeds Liverpool canal which now made passage to Liverpool out of the question.

After a few drinks and chatting in the marina bar a group of us have decided to give the Stourport ring a try.  We, Chris and I that is, want to get to Sharpness and on the return visit Stratford-upon-Avon and then up through Birmingham via gas street basin to return on the Shroppie and explore that in a more leisurely manner than we have in the past. 

For now though we are enjoying the hot weather, basking in the delightfull Chester Basin watching the world melt in the searing heat and having a few drinks. Until next time Cheers!

Enjoying a balmy evening with a whiskey and lemonade in Chester Basin

New Student accommodation block reflections in the calm waters of the basin