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Archive for April, 2012

Sunday 15th April 2012

Chuch Minshull viewpoint to Aqueduct Marina.

This is the last day of our very mixed Easter holiday week.  The weather has been mixed, rain, heavy rain, really heavy rain, ice balls, hail stones, sunshine but not much wind apart from after Lochaber had the chilli con carnie!  The wildlife has given us glimpses of baby ducklings, nesting swans, numerous seemingly unafraid herons & the highlight of the week our first sighting of a kingfisher!

It flew alongside the boat for a few hundred yards darting in & out of the canal bank, beautiful shimmering colours, finally it posed just for us! Here he/she is…..

Emotionally our week has given us some respite from work but has challenged our boating skills with the near failure of the 2nd drive plate & the loss of reverse gear on the home straight. I thought that a  narrowboaters life was supposed to be relaxed & unstressed! I think the stress was actually caused not so much by the mechanical components failures but by the fact that we thought last year this problem had been resolved. I will detail things a bit more on the page dealing specifically with the drive plate issues once the promised replacement gear box  has been fitted & everything is working correctly.

I’ve had a hearty boaters breakfast. The sun is shining, the wind is minimal, the canal is relatively still, it is 10am & I have one shot at getting this 57ft of steel with no reverse gear into her mooring BN3 at Aqueduct Marina, here we go…….

We pulled her around & in through the entrance, then a small amount of forward power so I had some steering, hold your breath & hope the wind doesn’t gust, so far so good, one of the lads from the marina was at the end of our jetty waiting for Lochaber to throw the rope once I had the bow close enough & turning, at times like this never listen to anyone who says you don’t need a Bow Thruster, it has been a life saver for us the past two days & I say that unashamedly!! Power is right off & we are gliding in bow turned just enough, throw that rope, shes’ in, now guys just stop her completely before the bow reaches the opposite jetty, Yes! we made it. Sighs of relief.

I need a few minutes to get my nerves sorted, the heron on one of the boats opposite our stern who had been watching the carry on certainly helped me calm down.

So, I hope you have enjoyed my first proper boating week blog & the journey we have shared with you.

Today 1.5miles 3 bridges, o locks, 30 minutes, 1 marina

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Saturday 14th April 2012

Middlewich to Church Minshull Viewpoint

After a somewhat dissapointing end to yesterday when reverse gear was completely lost coming under bridge 168 between Kings Lock & Wardle Lock at Middlewich, we awoke with a sense of trepidation. Although we only have a couple of miles with one lock to go to reach the safety of Aqueduct Marina, we have a considerable amount of bridges some without much of a view through to the other side to see oncoming traffic.

It was dull today but at least it was dry for now. We set off around 12 midday & Lochaber walked ahead for the first couple of bridges as they were close together to warn me of any oncoming boats. Although I was only cruising very slowly it still takes considerable time to come to a stop & a breeze was starting to build up so I couldn’t keep the forward speed as slow as I would have liked.

Approaching Stanthorne lock we passed a boat whose owner told us that another boat was coming through the lock in the same direction, I slowed down to the absolute minimum that I could & just basically let That’s D’riculous go with the flow of the canal until we saw the second boat emerge from the lock, they left the gates open as they spotted us so we just glided in very slowly & I threw a centre rope up just so that Lochaber could bring her to a total stop.

So far, so good! we carried on towards Church Minshull honking the horn loudly as we approached every bridge that we could not see through, only once did we meet another boat when it was too late & frantic hand jestures & more horn blasts got him to realise that he was the only one with the option of going backwards. No contact was made & apologies for all the noise & frantic jestures were accepted on a quick explanation as we passed!

In the midst of all our tense concentration we suddenly noticed a swan following an oncoming boat very closely in its wake, as our two boats passed he immediately turned around & positioned him/herself in our wake very close to the rudder, we had never seen this behaviour before, he was that close he was pecking at the rear fender almost as if he/she was trying to hang on to it. We realised that he/she was in fact catching a free ride, using our wake to pull him/her along, this carried on for around half a mile then he just backed off.

The swan had brightened our otherwise stressful short trip back to Church Minshull. Shortly we arrived at the veiwpoint which is one of our favorite stops before entering the Marina, as once back in the marina our trips seem over, but we weren’t going home until tomorrow afternoon, so reverse gear or not we still had another night aboard & we were not going to waste it in the marina. I checked the weather for Sunday & it was supposed to be bright & sunny with very little wind, this was what we needed as Aqueduct Marina is incredibly open & even a slight breeeze can pull boats to the far end of the marina & our particular mooring takes quite a tight trun to get in & with no revorse we will only have one shot at this tomorrow!

We enjoyed the veiw & watching a couple of guys messing around in thier flying machines, they had parachute type canopies but with small engines of some sort. we are told this is power paragliding!  A nice relaxing end to a stressful day!

Now the nerves need steadying with a few glasses of white & some good food, Gammon steak & all the trimmings should hit the mark!

Today 5 miles, 1 lock, 16 bridges, 2hrs 35 mins 

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Friday 13th April 2012 (Easter Week)

Trent & Mersey, Rode Heath to Middlewich

The next morning @coalboat posted a tweet of us still sleeping whilst he was setting off! Nice one Brian.

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Brian McGuigan@Coalboat

@nbcornish That’s D’riculous on this frosty morn at Rode Heath. Have a good trip. http://yfrog.com/g03eazuj

What a nice way to start the day, the weather was warmer & brighter, the sun was shining.

We had taken it really easy yesterday as we had been contacted by the suppliers with regard to our drive plate problems & it seems that the particular gear boxes fitted a couple of years ago are faulty but an ongoing court case over the matter last year prevented them from telling us this when our first one failed. only on the second failure we have been told of this & have been offered a full replacement without charge. That is the good news, the bad is that we still have to get back to Aqueduct Marina with the existing one that takes its toll on the drive plate, I tried to use the gears a little as possible yesterday & decided on the same plan of action today as we had 20 locks to do. This is good practice however for handling your boat.

So, we left Rode Heath back along the Trent & Mersey, coming round to Thurlwood lock.

On to Lock 58 & watching the traffic rushing past on the M6.

A bit further on near lock 60 a horse from the stables was grazing near the lock gate.

At lock 63 I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful colour of the towels on the washing line, wonder how many washes before they fade to pale pink!

Isn’t it strange the things you notice when the sun is shining! we carried on & I was being extra careful with the amount of gear usage, The wind was minimal so it was easy to go very slow & just glide between the locks, so far so good. At lock 64 near Malkin’s Bank Golf Club BW are doing some work on one of the pair of locks.

Just before bridge 160 there was substantial ground works going on behind the boatyard, it looked like it may be the start of an extension to an existing industrial estate, but the heavy machines reminded me of  dinosaurs with the buckets waving around like giant heads & the engines roaring, yeah, I know some imagination!

We made a lunch stop at Wheelock & emptied the rubbish & wine bottles! lunch was Smoked haddock Chowder & hot baguette, lovely!

Just before bridge 65 there is a Dutch Barge style narrowboat moored, she is beautiful.

A bit further on towards Middlewich & all seemed well with the drive plate however reverse gear was getting harder to engage & disengage it literally took two hands, hmm worrying ,

however this heron looking liked he belonged to the ministry of silly walks took my mind off things for a while!

We passed the salt working getting closer to Middlewich, The lamentation of swans that we saw on the way out were still there we counted 30 in total.

We were approaching Kings lock  nice & slowly as we saw a boat coming up in the lock & as with everybody else today thought they would just come out leaving the gate open a we were only about 100yds away, again saving us gear usage, but no, they shut the gate & left the paddles up. when we past them it was obvious they didn’t have much care for others or themselves! One of the young children was poking at a manky dead duck with her fingers by the lock, then ate chips from chipper, parents unphased!

At this point I knew we would need to use reverse as this junction is very tight if you are turning onto the Middlewich Branch & into Wardle lock, as i was trying to carry on doing things slowly Lochaber decided that a blast of reverse was need to get round & under the bridge into the lock…..big mistake, she came out of reverse but no way was she going to engage reverse again!

So a sad end in the ongoing drive plate saga to a rather pleasant day. Tomorrow we will have to make it back to Aqueduct marina with NO REVERSE GEAR!  Somebody has a lot of stress & two spoilt holidays to answer for!

Today 11 miles, 20 locks, 6hrs & NO reverse gear now!

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Thursday 12th April 2012 (Easter Week)

Macclesfield Canal, Hall Green to Rode Heath, Trent & Mersey

We awoke around 8am this morning quite a few people were on the move & the day didn’t seem too bad. Breakfast was toast & porridge & thoroughly enjoyed!  We left the mooring at Hall Green & through the stop lock.

Past Red Bull Services & a wave to Tony who fitted our 2nd new drive plate on Tuesday. round Hardings Wood Junction, through lock 42 & a stop for water at the BW premises by the bridge.

The cottage opposite has a very pretty garden.

Filled up with water we made our way towards Rode Heath,

The weather was now starting to rain persistently with hail stones mixed in for good measure & very little breaks in the cloud. We plodded on, passing the pretty church at Church Lawton.

We arrived at Rode Heath around 2pm 7 would have gone further in a day but the weather was foul by now so we decided to call it a day.

We walked to the village PO to post a parcel, a book from my Amazon online sales that we happened to have on the boat as Lochaber was reading it, Titanic, the boat that never sunk! What a co-incidence!  I returned from the shop livid, now remember that I am English living in Scotland  therefore had Scottish style notes in my purse, the shop informed me that they do not take Scottish notes due to the fact that most of them are fakes! Mine are not, if in doubt put them under your scanner, get a life they ARE legal tender, I think I made my point & she reluctantly accepted my £10 note.  That was the last straw, the diabolical weather, the Scottish note saga, let’s get in the pub for some grub & a beer.

The meal at The Broughton Arms on the way out was ok, I mentioned it in an earlier blog but today it was absolute garbage & I mean garbage, so much so that Lochaber raised his voice & complained & that is a rare occurrence. as we sat in the pub the sun emerged & the temperature rose so we moved to outside on the patio, what a difference to a few hours earlier. A mother duck came up the steps calling her young ones trying to get them to the bank, these were the first ducklings we had seen this year.

It turned out to be a lovely evening after such a miserable day.

Looks like more of a jaunt than work on a BW boat!

We had not long been back to the boat & most of the canal traffic had ceased then we heard the humm of an engine, a late cruiser we thought, it was John on nbAlton, the coalboat. they did not know us but we follow them on Twitter so I tweeted that we  had seen them.

Today 5.5miles, 13 locks, 4hrs

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Wednesday 11th April 2012  (Easter Week)

Macclesfield Canal Bridge 59 to Hall Green

We had a lay in today, drive plate stress had sort of mentally knackered us over the past couple of days. As I lay on our warm bed I could hear the rain on the roof, oh, well it might be like yesterday & have nice long sunny spells in between the rain!

We had porridge for breakfast, did some cleaning & tidying then set off for Bosley Locks, they were only about a mile further on & by the time we got there the sun was shining. We had a dilemma because we had lost time on Easter Monday, if we went up the Bosley flight we would basically have to come straight back down again either today or tomorrow morning & 12 Locks would mean quite alot of gear changing, so we decided to get the best of the situation & do the first lock No12 & use the winding hole to turn around, then moor at the bottom & have a walk up the flight in the sunshine.

Turned around, back through lock 12 & moored a few yards past the lock mooring, removed one layer of fleece as it was beautiful but kept the macs.

The towpath was very muddy & slippery due to all the rain over the past week. I thought I would photograph each lock as we walked,  We carried on up to No4 then the heavens opened & I mean OPENED! The cloud got lower, the wind picked up & the sky got darker, not a glimmer of brightness or blue sky as far as you could see. We carried on up to Lock 2, watched three lots of miserable boaters make their way through the locks, Caley our spaniel was caked in mud & we were absolutely soaked so we made our way back down

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you look carefully you can see the rain “sheeting down” in the slideshow.

We walked back to the boat, dried off ourselves & the dog & made lunch! Then suddenly the sun came out so we set off again, disappointed that we had to do Bosley flight by foot but there is always next time when we will have more time.

On the way back we spotted a beautiful house as we looked down from the canal.

We came across a group of canoeists.

We admired the church spire towering over the town of Astbury.

We had come as far as Congleton last year in the summer but needed to turn around so we chose the first winding hole on the map after Congleton, what a fiasco we had with our new longer nb & we thought we were so inexperienced as we made such a meal of a turn, however this year we understood why. That stretch of canal has been drastically cut back & the reeds cleared back, now you can actually see the winding hole which last year was just a mass of thick reeds so you could not even see the shape of the hole! well done BW that complete stretch is much improved.

The day turned out to be mainly sunny & quite a bit warmer than of late.  We carried on along this beautifully peaceful canal to Hall Green & stopped on the rather full moorings just before the stop lock. lots of other friendly boaters moored up & ready to chat. Nice end to an odd day.

The lack of locks on this stretch means that today has not rendered too much wear & tear on the new drive plate & existing gear box, tomorrow however we start to make our way down Heartbreak Hill & that’s a different story.

Today 9 miles, 4 hours, 0 locks by NB, 11 locks by foot! 

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Tuesday 10th April 2012 (Easter week)

Macclesfield Canal, Hardings Wood Junction to Bridge 59

We awoke around 8am & wondered what today would bring with regard to our drive plate issue & if we would get on the move.

Tony from Red Bull Services came around the corner to the moorings around 10am & helped us pull That’s D’riculous backwards into his workshop, not because she wouldn’t start but so that the engine stayed cold & that any reversing didn’t silt up the slipway, we waited with bated breath as he removed the gear box, that was ok, then the dreaded drive plate, yes there it was not totally shattered as with the first one but damaged enough to be making alot of noise & it would have disintegrated within about 10hrs travelling. That would make the travelling hours 142, the first drive plate disintegrated at 74hrs so I can see a pattern appearing.

Tony went off the get another drive plate from  Middlewich.

While we were waiting we wandered into Butt lane the nearest town, only 10 mins walk but up quite a steep hill. The usual collection of small Supermarket, PO, Hardware shop, Newsagent, Bookies & Chipper.

We notice that the town has a Petanque club, haven’t played that for ages, used to have the full set of balls!

Lochaber spotted a plague on one of the houses up the hill stating that Reginald Mitchell the designer of the Spitfire aeroplane was born there.

On the way back down the hill we couldn’t walk past the chipper without grabbing a bag each for the stroll back to see how Tony was getting on with the repairs. The full version of the ongoing drive plate sage can be found on the page “Hooked, now we start living the dream”

New drive plate installed, should get us through the rest of the week & back to the marina, gear ratio slightly adjusted, the sun is shinning, lets go!

We made our way along the same piece of canal that we had walked yesterday & passed the swing bridge on our way to Bosley Locks.

This is Ramsdell Hall, the sgin below tells the story of the restored railings around the Hall & on both sides of the canal.

To the right all the way we could see Mow Cop.

The weather was much better today, even warm when the clouds allowed the sun to peep through, we made our way towards Congleton. The stone distance markers along the towpath were a delight to see on the way

It is just so lovely & peaceful up here, we were quite disappointed that due to the mechanical problems we won’t be able to venture further than Bosley Lochs.

We found a remote mooring spot with a good view & settled down ro a big dish of Chilli that had been in the slow cooker whilst we had been travelling.

Today 9.5 miles, 4 hours, 1 Stop Lock

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Monday 9th April 2012 ( Easter Monday)

Macclesfield Canal, Hardings Wood Junction to Nowhere!

Easter Monday & the weather forecast was awful, we had no reason to rise early as we were not going anywhere today due to re-occurring drive plate problems & we needed our second replacement within a year but due to it being Easter Monday no supplier were open, so we had to stay put until tomorrow. We looked out of the window around 9am & this is what we saw

The rain lasted until 4pm, but we decided to get some DIY tasks done to make That’s D’riculous more comfortable when we embark on liveaboard next year. So I set Lochaber to work

I managed to find a tilting bed desk that I can use for a book or my ipad during the long dark winter months cosied up in bed, but as with everything on a narrowboat storage & accessibility is paramount, as I folded flat we decided that storage near the bed on a vacant piece of wall space was the best option.

Perfect, job done, next! a couple of pictures to be hung, lochaber has had enough now & the rain has eased so time for a walk with the dog.

Now folks I don’t want to come across as a moaner or a killjoy but, on the right is what we do on the left is what everyone else seems to leave behind on this stretch of towpath! If you want the pleasure of a dog….PICK IT UP!

Apart from the offending dog pooh at regular intervals along the towpath, it was also very muddy due to the amount of rain that had been falling all day, but we had a nice walk up to Hall Green stop lock

Then past a beautiful house complete with large weeping willow & own Narrowboat, not envious at all, really.

We carried on as far as the swing bridge (90) & met a local who told us that a badger set had been spotted on the opposite bank & that the rabbit population was coming back in this area after a heavy dose of “mixi”.

Easter Monday 0 miles, o hours, 1 lock by foot! 

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